Background: Power spectral analysis of heart rate variability (HRV) has recently been shown to be a reliable non-invasive test for quantitative assessment of the central sympathovagal interaction that modulates cardiovascular autonomic function.
Methods: We studied 39 euthymic bipolar patients and 39 controls, matched for age and sex. A high-resolution electrocardiogram was obtained during complete rest. Spectral analysis of R–R intervals was performed by the fast Fourier transform algorithm.
Results: Euthymic bipolar patients at rest are characterized by markedly low HRV, independent of specific drug treatments.
Conclusion: While these results of autonomic stability in euthymic bipolar patients are counter-intuitive, the findings may be important in understanding pathophysiology of bipolar affective illness.