Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Depression Appears To Be Linked To Reduced Blood Pressure Control In Heart Patients

Date:
March 8, 1999
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
Cardiologists have long noted that many heart patients suffer from depression, but it has always been a chicken-and-egg issue: which came first, the heart disease or the depression?

DURHAM, N.C. - Cardiologists have long noted that many heart patients suffer from depression, but it has always been a chicken-and-egg issue: which came first, the heart disease or the depression?

A researcher at Duke University Medical Center may have found a clue to the conundrum. In a small study, she and a colleague found that the circulation system in people who are highly depressed does not appear to control changes in their blood pressure very well. Such a lack of autonomic regulation can put these patients at risk of heart damage from improperly regulated heart beats.

The loss of this autonomic function was substantial - one-third of normal regulation - the researchers report in the March issue of the American Heart Journal.

But they also say there is an effective and simple treatment for patients who may be suffering from this phenomenon. Exercise is the most effective way of restoring this function, called baroreflex sensitivity, said the study's author, Duke's Lana Watkins, Ph.D.

Baroreflex sensitivity is a phenomenon by which receptors located along the walls of blood vessels respond to changes in blood pressure. These receptors are connected to the heart by nerves, which carry the message to pump faster or slower in response to pressure changes.

"As a result of this study, it appears that reduced baroreflex sensitivity (BRS) may be a marker of increased risk for patients with heart disease and symptoms of depression," Watkins said. Her colleague in the study was Paul Grossman, Ph.D, at the Lown Cardiovascular Center in Brookline, Mass., which funded the study.

"In order to demonstrate the predictive value of measuring BRS in heart patients, a larger study needs to be conducted," she said. "However, while our findings are speculative, they are intriguing. In our group of heart patients, those who scored high on tests of depression had a 30 percent reduction in their baroreflex control."

As the heart pumps more blood and pressure rises, the arteries expand, which in turn stretches the receptors along the arterial walls. In response to stretching, the receptors send a signal to the heart to slow its pumping.

"In this way, the baroreflex system attempts to maintain an equilibrium which helps guard against sudden cardiac events," Watkins said. "The baroreceptors of depressed heart patients don't seem to have the same sensitivity to blood pressure changes."

Past research already has shown that depression is an independent risk factor for future cardiac events in patients with coronary artery disease. Furthermore, according to Watkins, studies have shown a link between death following heart attack among depressed heart patients and the occurrence of irregular heart beats known as arrhythmias.

"One way that depression is a risk factor for cardiac events is that it creates a situation where baroreflex control is low, which could explain why depressed people are a greater risk," Watkins said.

Out of a group of 66 patients, researchers selected 14 patients who scored the lowest in commonly used tests for depression, and compared their baroreflex control to 16 patients who scored the highest on the tests. Using a new technique, researchers were able to measure subtle changes in heart rate and blood pressure between heart beats.

For heart attack patients who may be depressed, Watkins recommends exercise, since research has shown that regular physical activity can restore a degree of baroreflex control.

"Exercise seems to have beneficial effects on the electrical stability of the heart," Watkins said. "Typically after heart attacks, people tend to become more sedentary. However, the results of the study add further weight to the argument that exercise after a heart attack is beneficial."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Duke University. "Depression Appears To Be Linked To Reduced Blood Pressure Control In Heart Patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 March 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990308055456.htm>.
Duke University. (1999, March 8). Depression Appears To Be Linked To Reduced Blood Pressure Control In Heart Patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990308055456.htm
Duke University. "Depression Appears To Be Linked To Reduced Blood Pressure Control In Heart Patients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990308055456.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Calling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a potential threat to global security, President Barack Obama is ordering 3,000 U.S. military personnel to the stricken region amid worries that the outbreak is spiraling out of control. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Nearly $1.0 billion dollars is needed to fight the Ebola outbreak raging in west Africa, the United Nations say, warning that 20,000 could be infected by year end. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is ordering U.S. military personnel to West Africa to deal with the Ebola outbreak, which is he calls a potential threat to global security. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins