Major Depression with Ischemic Heart Disease: Effects of Paroxetine and Nortriptyline on Measures of Nonlinearity and Chaos of Heart RateYeragani V.K.a · Roose S.b · Mallavarapu M.c · Radhakrishna R.K.A.a · Pesce V.b
aDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Mich., and bDepartment of Psychiatry, Columbia University School of Medicine, New York, N.Y., USA; cBangalore University, and dDepartment of ECE, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India
Depression is associated with increased cardiovascular mortality in patients with preexisting cardiac illness. A decrease in cardiac vagal function as suggested by a decrease in heart rate variability (HRV) or heart period variability has been linked to sudden death in patients with cardiac disease as well as in normal controls. Recent studies have shown decreased vagal function in cardiac patients with depression as well as in depressed patients without cardiac illness. In this study, we compared 20 h awake and sleep heart period nonlinear measures using quantification of nonlinearity and chaos in two groups of patients with major depression and ischemic heart disease (mean age 59–60 years) before and after 6 weeks of treatment with paroxetine or nortriptyline. Patients received paroxetine, 20–30 mg/day or nortriptyline targeted to 190–570 nmol/l for 6 weeks. For HRV analysis, 24 patients were included in the paroxetine treatment study and 20 patients in the nortriptyline study who had at least 20,000 s of awake data. The ages of these groups were 60.4 ± 10.5 years for paroxetine and 60.8 ± 13.4 years for nortriptyline. There was a significant decrease in the largest Lyapunov exponent (LLE) after treatment with nortriptyline but not paroxetine. There were also significant decreases in nonlinearity scores on SnetPR and SnetGS after nortriptyline, which may be due to a decrease in cardiac vagal modulation of HRV. SnetGS and awake LLE were the most significant variables that contributed to the discrimination of postparoxetine and postnortriptyline groups even with the inclusion of time and frequency domain measures. These findings suggest that nortriptyline decreases the measures of chaos probably through its stronger vagolytic effects on cardiac autonomic function compared with paroxetine, which is in agreement with previous clinical and preclinical reports. Nortriptyline was also associated with a significant decrease in nonlinearity scores, which may be due to anticholinergic and/or sympatholytic effects. As depression is associated with a strong risk factor for cardiovascular mortality, one should be careful about using any drug that adversely affects cardiac vagal function.
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