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The Connection Between Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and PTSD

November 15, 2018

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The Meadows

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Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a significant public health problem in individuals deployed to war. The lifetime prevalence of the disorder is approximately 19% in Vietnam-era combat veterans and 23% in US military service members serving in this era’s conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan (1), compared with an 8% general prevalence rate of PTSD in the US.

HRV is the quantitative assessment of variation in heartbeat intervals and is a sensitive index of autonomic nervous system (ANS) function. A study was recently conducted to determine whether HRV before combat deployment is associated with an increased risk of developing PTSD after deployment. Between July 14, 2008, and May 24, 2012, active-duty Marines were assessed 1 to 2 months before a combat deployment and again 4 to 6 months after their return. After accounting for deployment-related combat exposure, lower HRV before deployment as an increased low frequency to a high-frequency ratio of HRV was found to be associated with risk of PTSD diagnosis post-deployment.

In other words, it was discovered that those who are more susceptible to anxiety and have a decreased resilience to stress are in an at-risk state for the development of stress disorders like PTSD. If these findings are replicated, interventions that change autonomic nervous system function may open novel opportunities for the prevention and treatment of PTSD.

Meadows Behavioral Healthcare works to regulate HRV in our Brain Center

The Meadows is a TRICARE Network Provider

The Meadows Behavioral Health is uniquely qualified with 40+ years of experience. No other treatment center in the country is currently integrating cutting-edge neurobehavioral treatment modalities with tried-and-true individual and group psychotherapies. That means that no other treatment center is offering treatment that truly, simultaneously, addresses the needs of the brain, mind, and body in treating PTSD and co-occurring disorders.

We are tremendously proud of our work with service members, veterans, and their families, and would be happy to help determine eligibility and benefits that can be utilized at The Meadows. We are privileged to be a TRICARE Preferred Provider of behavioral health and substance abuse inpatient services to active duty military members, veterans, and their families. We are also in-network with TRICARE West.

1. Minassian, A., Maihofer, A. X., Baker, D. G., Nievergelt, C. M., Geyer, M. A., & Risbrough, V. B. (2015). Association of Predeployment Heart Rate Variability With Risk of Postdeployment Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Active-Duty