Male Adolescent Heart Rate And Blood Pressure May Impact Mental Health


Investigators in Sweden and Finland have found that differences in young men’s heart rate and blood pressure may be associated with risk for mental health disorders during their lifetime.

The research utilized data from 1,794,361 Swedish males whose blood pressure and resting heart rate were recorded at military conscription, between 1969 and 2010. Their average age was 18 years. The young men's height, weight, body mass index, plus other cognitive and socioeconomic factors were also considered.

The study result, published online in JAMA Psychiatry, indicates that male adolescents with a resting heart rate over 82 beats per minute had a 69 percent higher risk of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) onset, when compared to those with a resting heart rate under 62 beats per minute. Those in the higher heart rate category also had a 21 percent greater risk for schizophrenia, and an 18 percent increased chance of developing anxiety.

Similar correlations for OCD, anxiety, schizophrenia, and substance related disorders were found with higher and lower blood pressure readings. Those in the highest blood pressure category, for instance, had a 30 to 40 percent greater risk for OCD than those in the lowest blood pressure group.

“Our findings are novel; there are no previous prospective studies linking these cardiovascular measures to subsequent OCD, schizophrenia, or anxiety disorder,” note the researchers. They also point out that the findings do not establish a cause and effect relationship, nor do they know whether similar associations would be discovered in women.

According to the study authors, women have higher heart rates but demonstrate a “relatively greater parasympathetic control of the heart.” This implies that a link between resting heart rate and psychiatric disorders might be different for women than for men.

More longitudinal studies are needed to confirm the validity of associations found in this research, and looking for underlying mechanisms may clarify the issue of cause and effect.

Source: Medical News Today
Photo credit: Tony Alter

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