Pacing and clinical electrophysiology : PACE vol:21 issue:8 pages:1546-52
The link between personality and cardiac function is insufficiently characterized. We postulated that in a healthy population, cardiac autonomic function is linked to coping style. In 276 healthy volunteers, between the ages of 18 and 71, the Utrecht Coping List was used to evaluate different coping strategies. Trait anxiety was scored by the Spielberger State Trait Anxiety Inventory. A 24-hour Holter recording was used to calculate heart rate variability (HRV). For HRV parameters and coping mechanisms this study demonstrated gender-specific differences and correlations with age. In men (n = 141) higher active coping was associated with less global autonomic activity or SDANN (rs = -0.27, P < 0.001). This relationship was most prevalent in young (18-30 years) men (rs = -0.45, P < 0.005). Higher expression of negative emotions or anger was related to both higher vagal (rs = 0.23 for rMSSD, P < 0.01) tone and higher LF power (rs = 0.23, P < 0.01). In young men expression of negative emotions or anger was associated with LF power (rs = 0.37, P < 0.01) and in middle-aged (31-50 years) men with vagal tone (rs = 0.43 for rMSSD, P < 0.005) and heart rate (rs = -0.41, P < 0.005). Higher comforting ideas was related to higher LF power (rs = 0.23 for LF power, P < 0.005), and this especially in middle-aged men (rs = 0.37, P < 0.01). In women (n = 135), no significant correlations between coping style and HRV indices were found. We conclude that in normal individuals, at least in men, our findings suggest a relationship between coping style and cardiac autonomic function.