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Heart rate variability changes in pregnant and non-pregnant women during standardized psychosocial stress


Klinkenberg, A V; Nater, U M; Nierop, A; Bratsikas, A; Zimmermann, R; Ehlert, Ulrike (2009). Heart rate variability changes in pregnant and non-pregnant women during standardized psychosocial stress. Acta obstetricia et gynecologica Scandinavica, 88(1):77-82.

Abstract

Objectives. To test the reactivity of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) of women in different stages of pregnancy to a psychosocial stressor.

Design. Psychosocial stress was induced by a standardized test, the Trier Social Stress Test.

Setting. University of Zurich, Switzerland. Population. Fifty-five healthy pregnant women (28 in the second and 27 in or close to the third trimester) and 24 non-pregnant women in the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle.

Methods. Heart rate variability (HRV) was recorded before, during and after the test. Subjective stress perception was measured by a visual analog scale.

Main outcome measures. Heart rate, HRV components (high frequency, HF; low frequency, LF, and LF/HF ratio), subjective stress ratings.

Results. HF significantly decreased and LF/HF ratio increased during psychosocial stress in all three groups. LF values indicated no significant reaction to psychosocial stress, but a trend towards significance with group interaction was seen. There were no significant differences in subjective stress ratings between the groups.

Conclusions. ANS activity during psychosocial stress seems to be decreased in proceeding pregnancy, whereas subjective stress perception does not show significant changes. The decline of HF due to stress compared to non-pregnant women is not attenuated, just on a lower level.

Objectives. To test the reactivity of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) of women in different stages of pregnancy to a psychosocial stressor.

Design. Psychosocial stress was induced by a standardized test, the Trier Social Stress Test.

Setting. University of Zurich, Switzerland. Population. Fifty-five healthy pregnant women (28 in the second and 27 in or close to the third trimester) and 24 non-pregnant women in the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle.

Methods. Heart rate variability (HRV) was recorded before, during and after the test. Subjective stress perception was measured by a visual analog scale.

Main outcome measures. Heart rate, HRV components (high frequency, HF; low frequency, LF, and LF/HF ratio), subjective stress ratings.

Results. HF significantly decreased and LF/HF ratio increased during psychosocial stress in all three groups. LF values indicated no significant reaction to psychosocial stress, but a trend towards significance with group interaction was seen. There were no significant differences in subjective stress ratings between the groups.

Conclusions. ANS activity during psychosocial stress seems to be decreased in proceeding pregnancy, whereas subjective stress perception does not show significant changes. The decline of HF due to stress compared to non-pregnant women is not attenuated, just on a lower level.

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21 citations in Web of Science®
21 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Obstetrics
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2009
Deposited On:28 Nov 2008 07:28
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:36
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0001-6349
Publisher DOI:10.1080/00016340802566762
PubMed ID:19023678
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-6291

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