Long-term caregiving is associated with impaired cardiovagal baroreflex.

Wu, Kevin K; Bos, Taylor; Mausbach, Brent T; Milic, Milos; Ziegler, Michael G; von Känel, Roland; Allison, Matthew A; Dimsdale, Joel E; Mills, Paul J; Ancoli-Israel, Sonia; Patterson, Thomas L; Grant, Igor (2017). Long-term caregiving is associated with impaired cardiovagal baroreflex. Journal of psychosomatic research, 103, pp. 29-33. Elsevier 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2017.10.001

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OBJECTIVE Caregiving stress is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Inability to adequately regulate blood pressure is a possible underlying mechanism explaining this risk. We examined the relationship between length of caregiving and cardiovagal baroreflex sensitivity (cBRS) to better understand the link between caregiving and CVD risk. METHODS A total of 146 elderly individuals (≥55years) participated in this study, of whom 96 were providing in-home care to a spouse with dementia and 50 were healthy controls married to a non-demented spouse (i.e., non-caregivers). Among the caregivers, 56 were short-term caregivers (caring<4years) and 40 were long-term caregivers (caring≥4years). A multiple linear regression model, with contrast codes comparing short and long-term caregivers with non-caregivers was used to understand relationships between chronic caregiving and cBRS. RESULTS After controlling for relevant demographic and health characteristics, mean±SE log transformed cBRS for non-caregivers was 0.971±0.029. Relative to non-caregivers, the long-term caregivers had significantly impaired cBRS (0.860±0.033; p=0.013). However, mean cBRS for short-term caregivers did not significant differ from non-caregivers (0.911±0.028; p=0.144). CONCLUSION These results suggest that long-term caregiving stress is associated with an impaired cBRS. Accumulation of stress from years of caregiving could result in worse cBRS function, which could be a mechanistic explanation for the correlation between caregiving stress and the increased risk of CVD.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Head Organs and Neurology (DKNS) > Clinic of Neurology > Centre of Competence for Psychosomatic Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

von Känel, Roland








Stefanie Hetzenecker

Date Deposited:

27 Feb 2018 13:45

Last Modified:

29 Oct 2019 04:18

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Alzheimer's Baroreceptor reflex Cardiovascular disease Heart disease Life stress





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