Heart India (2013-01-01)

Heart rate variability among caregivers of chronically bedridden patients

  • Amrith Pakkala,
  • Chitradurga Palaiah Ganashree,
  • Thippeswamy Raghavendra

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 1, no. 3
pp. 78 – 80


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Background: Caregivers of chronically bedridden patients are likely to suffer from mental and physical exhaustion leading to stress. This is important in view of the prevailing socioeconomic as well as the healthcare system available in a developing country like India. Therefore, the present study is designed to measure heart rate variability (HRV) among this special group of population who give care to long-term bedridden patients. Materials and Methods: Fifteen female subjects were enrolled from among attendants of patients admitted with an immediate history of a cerebrovascular accident with locomotor deficits, who required constant care. They were free from any type of physical and mental health issues, nonsmokers and nonaddicts. Each care giver was subjected to HRV analysis on three occasions: The first record was performed in the 1 st week of their arrival in the hospital as caregivers. The second observation was recorded after 3 months of caregiving. The final HRV analysis was done after 6 months of care giving. Two types of parameters were analyzed: Time domain and frequency domain. Statistical analysis was done using paired t-test. Results: Both the HRV parameters: Time and frequency domain, showed decreased values during the 3 rd and 6 th month recording as compared to the 1 st week recording. The decrease is much more during the 6 th month recording as compared to the 3 rd month recording. Statistically significant decrease is observed in mean RR interval, heart rate, very low frequency (VLF), and LF only when the 1 st week recording is compared with the 3 rd month recording, but when the 1 st week recording was compared with the 6 th month recording significant decrease was found in mean RR interval and heart rate. Conclusion: Subjects involved in taking care of chronically ill bedridden patients are likely to undergo a lot of physical and mental stress, thus affecting their autonomic status. HRV analysis using short term electrocardiogram (ECG) recording was used to detect changes consequent to this stress. It was found that almost all HRV parameters measuring heart rate complexity were decreased in the period of caregiving.