Effect of Stress on Heart Rate Variability in Medical Students: A Cross-sectional Study CC01-CC04
Dr. T Bharath,
Associate Professor, Department of Physiology, Sapthagiri Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Center, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India.
Introduction: Medical education can impose significant psychological stress on undergraduate students. A considerable degree of psychological morbidity has been reported among medical students ranging from stress, interpersonal problems, and suicidal ideation to psychiatric disorders and they tend to have greater psychological distress than the general population. Stress is one of the factors known to cause variation in heart rate variability. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a proven reliable non invasive marker of cardiovascular health and has been used in cardiovascular risk stratification.
Aim: To study the effect of stress on heart rate variability in medical students.
Materials and Methods: The cross-sectional study was conducted in the Department of Physiology at JSS Medical College, Mysuru, Karnataka, India, from December 2017 to February 2018. Total 58 healthy first-year MBBS medical students aged between 18-25 years with normal Body Mass Index (BMI) were included in the study. The Medical Student Stressor Questionnaire (MSSQ), a validated instrument to identify sources of stress in medical students was used to assess the level of stress. AD Instruments PowerLab (Data Acquisition System) was used to record the frequency and time domain analysis of HRV from the limb leads. Kruskal-Wallis test was applied to assess the association between stress domains and HRV domains, using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 23.0.
Results: Most of the medical students had mild to moderate degrees of stress in all the domains of the MSSQ. There was no statistically significant (p-value>0.05) association found between domains of stress with the time and frequency domains of the HRV.
Conclusion: Though it was found that medical students were exposed to significant stressors during their medical training, the stress was of mild to a moderate degree which had no significant effect on HRV.