Depression and heart rate variability in patients with coronary heart disease

Cleve Clin J Med. 2009 Apr;76 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):S13-7. doi: 10.3949/ccjm.76.s2.03.


Depression is common in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD) and is a risk factor for cardiac morbidity and mortality in these patients. Depression is associated with autonomic nervous system dysfunction, which may at least partially explain this increased risk. Low heart rate variability (HRV), which reflects excessive sympathetic and/or inadequate parasympathetic modulation of heart rate, is a strong predictor of mortality in patients with CHD. Most studies-both in patients with stable CHD and in patients with a recent acute coronary event-have found HRV to be lower in depressed patients than in their nondepressed counterparts. This manuscript provides an overview of this literature and concludes that HRV may account for a substantial part of the risk associated with depression in CHD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / diagnosis
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / etiology*
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / psychology
  • Coronary Disease / complications*
  • Coronary Disease / physiopathology
  • Coronary Disease / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / physiopathology
  • Humans