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Editorial
October 2015

Heart Rate Variability in the Prediction of Risk for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
  • 2Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia
  • 3Division of Cardiology, Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Atlanta, Georgia
JAMA Psychiatry. 2015;72(10):964-965. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.1394

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a relatively common condition, with a 7% to 9% lifetime prevalence in US civilians and a 15% to 19% lifetime prevalence in combat veterans.1 Neurobiological dysregulation of autonomic nervous system pathways involved in the stress response has long been considered a hallmark of the abnormal physiologic processes and clinical presentation of PTSD. Common symptoms of PTSD, such as intrusions and hyperarousal, are likely mediated by the autonomic nervous system. Furthermore, autonomic dysregulation, indexed by low heart rate variability (HRV), is a consistent correlate of PTSD symptoms and may improve when PTSD is in remission.2

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