skip to page content
Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

Health Services Research & Development

Go to the ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Heart rate and heart rate variability as outcomes and longitudinal moderators of treatment for pain across follow-up in Veterans with Gulf War illness.

Mathersul DC, Dixit K, Avery TJ, Schulz-Heik RJ, Zeitzer JM, Mahoney LA, Cho RH, Bayley PJ. Heart rate and heart rate variability as outcomes and longitudinal moderators of treatment for pain across follow-up in Veterans with Gulf War illness. Life sciences. 2021 Jul 15; 277:119604.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


AIMS: Accumulating evidence suggests Gulf War illness (GWI) is characterised by autonomic nervous system dysfunction (higher heart rate [HR], lower heart rate variability [HRV]). Yoga - an ancient mind-body practice combining mindfulness, breathwork, and physical postures - is proposed to improve autonomic dysfunction yet this remains untested in GWI. We aimed to determine (i) whether HR and HRV improve among Veterans with GWI receiving either yoga or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for pain; and (ii) whether baseline autonomic functioning predicts treatment-related pain outcomes across follow-up. MAIN METHODS: We present secondary analyses of 24-hour ambulatory cardiac data (mean HR, square root of the mean squared differences between successive R-R intervals [RMSSD], high frequency power [HF-HFV], and low-to-high frequency ratio [LF/HF] extracted from a 5-min window during the first hour of sleep) from our randomised controlled trial of yoga versus CBT for pain among Veterans with GWI (ClinicalTrials.govNCT02378025; N  =  75). KEY FINDINGS: Veterans who received CBT tended towards higher mean HR at end-of-treatment. Better autonomic function (lower mean HR, higher RMSSD/HF-HRV) at baseline predicted greater reductions in pain across follow-up, regardless of treatment group. Better baseline autonomic function (mid-range-to-high RMSSD/HF-HRV) also predicted greater pain reductions with yoga, while worse baseline autonomic function (higher mean HR, lower RMSSD/HF-HRV) predicted greater pain reductions with CBT. SIGNIFICANCE: To our knowledge, this is the first study to suggest that among Veterans with GWI, HR may increase with CBT yet remain stable with yoga. Furthermore, HR and HRV moderated pain outcome across follow-up for yoga and CBT.

Questions about the HSR&D website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.