Patients who are recovering from heart problems, but have depression take longer to return to their normal heart rate after taking a treadmill stress test, according to a new study published in the American Heart Journal.
Study co-author Dr. Joel W. Hughes, of Kent State University, Ohio, and colleagues said that patients who take longer to recover from the stress test have increased mortality risk. Heart rate recovery after a treadmill stress test is an important parameter that tells how the autonomic nervous system is functioning.
The autonomic nervous system is responsible for regulating blood pressure, heart rate, airflow to the lungs, as well as the digestive process, insulin secretion, urinary function and sexual response. The researchers examined 260 patients entering phase II cardiac rehabilitation in the current study.
The recovery of heart rate after exercise was slower in patients who had higher scores on Beck Depression Inventory. 'A role of physical fitness in the relationship between depression and heart rate is not surprising in light of the evidence that heart rate recovery is highly correlated with exercise capacity, depression predicts physical inactivity among patients at risk for heart disease, and depression symptoms are associated with reduced exercise capacity for patients with coronary artery disease,' the researchers noted.
They concluded by saying that fitness programs might be beneficial to depressed cardiac patients.