Autonomic Cardiac Activity in Patients with Smoking and Alcohol Addiction by Heart Rate Variability Analysis

Ramazan Yuksel, Rabia Nazik Yuksel, Tijen Sengezer, Senol Dane


Purpose: Smoking and alcohol addictions are common and worldwide. In the present study, we aimed to investigate the effects of these addictions on cardiac rhythm using heart rate variability (HRV) analysis.

Methods: Addicts (n=42 men: 22 cigarette; 20 cigarette and alcohol) and age-matched controls (n=34 men) were included in the study. All patients fulfill the criteria for dependence according to DSM-IV-TR. Electrocardiography (ECG) recordings were obtained for a total of 30 minutes. Fagerstrom Nicotine Addiction Test (FNAT) and CAGE questionnaire (Cut down, Annoy, Guilt, Eye opener) was applied to all patients.

Results: Almost all HRV parameters were significantly decreased in cigarette and cigarette and alcohol addicts compared with controls (p<0.05). The mean heart rate (bpm) increased in both addict groups compared with control group, and this increase was particularly significant in cigarette and alcohol addicts.

Conclusions: The cardiac autonomic balance shifted in favor of sympathetic activity by suppressing the parasympathetic activity in addicts; therefore, the present study shows that smoking and/or alcohol addiction leads to sympathetic activation and parasympathetic inhibition. Reduced vagal activity also predisposes to cardiac arrhythmias. This suggests an increased risk of cardiovascular mortality in subjects with smoking and alcohol addiction.

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