Cardiac Vagal Control and Depressive Symptoms in Response to Negative Emotional Stress

  • I. Tonhajzerova
  • Z. Visnovcova
  • A. Mestanikova
  • A. Jurko
  • M. MestanikEmail author
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 934)


We aimed to study complex cardiovagal control using heart rate variability (HRV), linear and nonlinear analyses at rest and during negative emotional stress in healthy students with varying depressive symptoms. ECG recording in 20 students was performed at baseline, negative emotional stress, and recovery period. The HRV parameters evaluated were the following: RR interval, spectral power in high-frequency band (HF-HRV), and symbolic dynamics index 2LV%. The subjects were divided into two groups based on the score of the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) – normal mood (BDI: 0.6 ± 0.2) and mild mood disturbance (BDI: 14.3 ± 1.4). We found significantly lower logHF-HRV during emotional stress in mild mood disturbance compared with normal mood (p = 0.047). No significant differences were found in the remaining parameters. We conclude that negative emotional stress attenuated the cardiovagal control during mood disturbance, which points to discrete abnormalities in the neurocardiac reflex system associated with depressive symptoms. Hampered cardiovagal control could represent a potential pathomechanism leading to depression-linked cardiovascular complications.


Depression Emotion Heart rate variability Mood disturbance Neurocardiac regulation Stress 



This work was supported by National Research Grant VEGA 1/0087/14, Comenius University Grant UK/151/2016, and the project “Biomedical Center Martin” ITMS code: 26220220187, the project is co-financed from EU sources.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest in relation to this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. Tonhajzerova
    • 1
  • Z. Visnovcova
    • 2
  • A. Mestanikova
    • 1
  • A. Jurko
    • 3
  • M. Mestanik
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Jessenius Faculty of Medicine in Martin (JFM CU), Department of Physiology JFM CU and Biomedical Center Martin JFM CUComenius University in BratislavaMartinSlovakia
  2. 2.Jessenius Faculty of Medicine in Martin (JFM CU), Biomedical Center Martin JFM CUComenius University in BratislavaMartinSlovakia
  3. 3.Pediatric CardiologyMartinSlovakia

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