Brain injury can cause reduced heart rate variability.
Heart rate variability is a measurement of the normal fluctuations in resting heart rate. A reduction in heart rate variability is associated with disorders such as diabetes or congestive heart failure, as well as mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Reduced heart rate variability is also associated with an increased risk of death.
A recent study found that people with severe acquired brain injury were significantly more likely to show reduced heart rate variability during rehabilitation. Clinicians treating people with severe brain injury should therefore include an assessment of heart rate variability at regular resting intervals, so that early intervention can be applied and the risk of complications can be reduced.
Vistisen ST, Hansen TK, Jenson J, et al. Heart rate variability in neurorehabilitation patients with severe acquired brain injury. Brain Injury. (February 2014).