Evidence for Autonomic Nervous System Imbalance in Women with Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Cite this article as:
- Heitkemper, M., Burr, R.L., Jarrett, M. et al. Dig Dis Sci (1998) 43: 2093. doi:10.1023/A:1018871617483
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Autonomic nervous system function was assessedin women with and without irritable bowel syndrome usingfrequency domain measures of heart rate variability.Women were interviewed and placed into the irritable bowel syndrome (N = 25) group based on historyof diagnosis and self-report of current gastrointestinalsymptoms. Women in the control group denied a history ofchronic gastrointestinal symptoms (N = 15). Women werefollowed for one menstrual cycle with a symptom diary,and during mid-luteal phase they wore a Holter 24-hrelectrocardiograph monitor. Women with irritable bowelsyndrome demonstrated significantly lower vagal tone as measured by the highfrequency spectrum relative to control women. Inaddition, women with irritable bowel syndrome had aflattened 24-hr pattern of heart rate variability, withsignificantly lower levels of vagal tone during sleep. Theseresults suggest that systemic sympathovagal balance maybe shifted in a subset of women with irritable bowelsyndrome.