Study: Heart rate variability linked to lower quality of life in people with COPD

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Heart-related therapies could improve the quality of life for individuals suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a new study finds.

People who suffer from COPD often report low quality of life indicators, beyond those related to lung function, according to researchers. Since COPD patients tend to have high resting heart rates and reduced heart rate variability — meaning the heart has an impaired ability to control beat frequency — investigators set out to measure heart rate variability and quality of life scores.

Researchers from Switzerland's Zurich University of Applied Sciences studied 60 COPD patients via heart-monitoring devices and a quality of life questionnaire. They were able to find a significant link between low quality of life and reduced heart rate variability, which suggests that COPD patients' wellbeing could be improved with therapies that treat this heart condition. More research is needed, researchers noted.

"Researchers have been trying to investigate the main causes of poor quality of life in COPD patients in order to improve their heath status," researcher Arnoldus J.R.van Gestel said. "In this study, we found that the autonomic nervous system, which controls heart rate, plays an important role in the decrease in quality of life."

The study was published in the journal Respirology.

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