London | Higher heart rate and blood pressure during teens may significantly increase the risk of developing obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders in later years, especially in men, a new study has found.
Autonomic nervous system functioning regulates the inner workings of the body. Besides resting heart rate, changes in blood pressure, regulated by the autonomic nervous system, have been observed in some patients with psychiatric disorders but the results have been inconsistent.
Antti Latvala of the University of Helsinki in Finland, and colleagues used register data for more than one million men in Sweden whose resting heart rate and blood pressure were measured at military conscription (average age 18) from 1969 to 2010 to examine whether differences in cardiac autonomic function were associated with psychiatric disorders.
Analyses based on up to 45 years of follow-up data suggest men in their late teens with resting heart rates above 82 beats per minute had a 69 per cent increased risk for later obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a 21 per cent increased risk for schizophrenia and an 18 per cent increased risk for anxiety disorders compared with those whose resting heart rates were below 62 beats per minute.
Researchers found similar associations for blood pressure.
Lower resting heart rate and blood pressure were linked to substance use disorders and violent behavior, researchers said.
“These associations should be confirmed in other longitudinal studies, and the underlying mechanisms should be studied with more detailed measures of autonomic functioning and designs that can more clearly elucidate causal processes,” they said.