Differences in heart rate variability between depressed and non-depressed elderly

Koen G. van der Kooy, Hein P.J. van Hout, Harm W.J. van Marwijk, Marten de Haan, Coen D.A. Stehouwer, Aartjan T.F. Beekman

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Objective: To determine whether older primary care patients with a Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) have lower heart rate variability (HRV) compared to non-depressed patients. HRV is a measure of cardiac autonomic functioning. Method: A cross-sectional comparison of 136 elderly persons with MDD and 136 non-depressed controls (matched for age and gender) recruited in family practices in the Netherlands. Depression was determined according to the DSM-IV criteria using the PRIME-MD. HRV was measured with an electrocardiogram (ECG) during a 5-minute supine rest. Results: Multivariate analyses showed statistically significant decrease in HRV in MDD patients compared with controls. Conclusion: Older primary care patients with MDD have a reduced HRV. This may explain why depression is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-150
Number of pages4
JournalInternational journal of geriatric psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006


  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Heart rate variability
  • Major depression
  • Primary care

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