Clinical Autonomic Research

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 119–122

Autonomic cardiac abnormalities in alcohol-dependent patients admitted to a psychiatric department


  • T. Rechlin
    • Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Erlangen-Nürnberg
  • I. Orbes
    • Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Erlangen-Nürnberg
  • M. Weis
    • Department of NeurologyUniversity of Erlangen-Nürnberg
  • W. P. Kaschka
    • Department of Psychiatry IUniversity of Ulm
Research Paper

DOI: 10.1007/BF02291234

Cite this article as:
Rechlin, T., Orbes, I., Weis, M. et al. Clinical Autonomic Research (1996) 6: 119. doi:10.1007/BF02291234


Standardized heart rate analyses were performed in 60 drug-free patients with alcohol dependence, who were admitted consecutively to a psychiatric department, and in 60 healthy normal matched subjects. The procedure included time and frequency derived measurements of heart rate variability (HRV). The investigations were carried out 3 weeks after admission and treatment on a closed ward to avoid autonomic hyperexcitability during withdrawal or relapse.

The patients showed a significantly increased heart rate (p<0.05), a significant reduction in the coefficient of variation while resting (p<0.01) and a significant decrease of the high frequency power of spectral analysis (p<0.01) compared with the normal subjects. Cardiovascular autonomic dysfunction was found in 12 of the patients, but in only one of the normal subjects (p<0.01). The results indicated moderate parasympathetic (vagal) alteration in alcohol-dependent patients treated in a psychiatric department. This may have implications for psychotherapeutic or psychopharmacological treatment strategies and prognosis in such patients with alcohol dependence.


heart rate analysisheart rate variability (HRV)alcohol dependencecardiovascular autonomic dysfunction

Copyright information

© Rapid Science Publishers 1996