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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
Shah A, Vaccarino V. Heart Rate Variability in the Prediction of Risk for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015;72(10):964–965. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.1394
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