Heart rate variability spectral analysis in patients with panic disorder compared with healthy controls.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of our study is to measure very low frequency band (VLF), low frequency band (LF) and high frequency band (HF) components of R-R interval during orthostatic test in patients with panic disorder and a comparison with healthy controls.

METHODS: We measured HRV in 31 patients with panic disorder and 20 healthy controls. Diagnosis was done according to the ICD-10 research diagnostic criteria confirmed with MINI (MINI international neuropsychiatric interview). Autonomic nervous system (ANS) has been evaluated during orthostatic change in three positions. Intensity of symptoms was assessed using psychiatric scales.

RESULTS: There were highly statistically significant differences between panic patients and control group in all components of power spectral analysis in 2nd and 3rd VLF components and in HF components of 2nd. We have found highly statistically significant negative correlations between level of dissociation measured by DES and some parameters of ANS. We found negative correlations between the age of the patient and activity of ANS, and negative correlations between activity of ANS and duration and onset of disorder and dosage of antidepressants.

CONCLUSION: These findings demonstrate a lower parasympathetic activity and higher sympathetic/parasympathetic ratio in panic disorder patients measured during the changes of postural position in comparison with healthy controls. Autonomic dysregulation is associated with panic disorder and has the relation with the level of dissociation, the age of patiens and age of onset of disorder.

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