Cardiovascular correlates of motor vehicle accident related posttraumatic stress disorder and its successful treatment
Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback
Springer Verlag (Germany) for Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB)
Persons with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been shown to display elevated baseline cardiovascular activity and a heightened physiological reactivity to trauma-related stimuli. Study 1 examined differences in baseline heart rate (HR) and HR reactivity in 68 survivors of motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) and healthy controls without MVA. MVA survivors with PTSD (n=26), subsyndromal PTSD (n=22), traumatized controls without PTSD (non-PTSD with MVA, n=20) and healthy controls without MVA (HC, n=27) underwent measurement of HR during baseline and exposure to a neutral, positive, negative, and trauma-related picture. PTSD patients showed elevated baseline HR and increased HR reactivity only during exposure to the trauma-related picture. Study 2 investigated whether the elevated physiological responses observed in Study 1 normalized after cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). We conducted a randomized, controlled treatment trial comparing CBT (n=17) to a Wait-list condition (WLC, n=18). Results showed a greater decrease in HR reactivity for CBT than for WLC. The change in HR reactivity was associated with clinical improvement.
This study was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (KA 1476/3)
Springer Open Choice Article
Vol. 31, pp. 315 - 330
Place of publication