Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 115–123 | Cite as

Marital Status and Heart Rate Variability in Patients with Suspected Coronary Artery Disease

  • Gemma Randall
  • Mimi R. Bhattacharyya
  • Andrew Steptoe
Original Article



Married individuals are at reduced risk of cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality. Recent research indicates that impaired heart rate variability (HRV) may contribute to cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality and has also been associated with social isolation.


We investigated associations between HRV and marital status in patients with suspected coronary artery disease (CAD).


Eighty-eight patients who were being investigated for suspected CAD (28 women, 60 men, mean age 61.6, 60% married) were recruited from three rapid access chest pain clinics in London. Heart rate variability was measured using 24-h electrocardiograms and analyzed using frequency and time-domain measures.


Unmarried marital status was associated with reduced heart rate variability as indexed by both frequency and time-domain measures, independently of age, gender, beta-blocker use, depression ratings, and subsequent diagnosis of significant CAD.


These findings suggest that reduced heart rate variability is associated with not being married and may contribute to the reliably observed relationship between marital status and cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality.


Marital status Heart rate variability Cardiovascular disease Social support 



This research was supported by the British Heart Foundation (grants RG/05/006 and FS/07/025).


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Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gemma Randall
    • 1
  • Mimi R. Bhattacharyya
    • 1
  • Andrew Steptoe
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and Public HealthUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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