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Changes in Heart Rate Variability May Occur in Women With IC/BPS

Williams DP, Chelimsky G, McCabe NP, Koenig J, Singh P, Janata J, Thayer JF, Buffington CA, Chelimsky T. Effects of Chronic Pelvic Pain on Heart Rate Variability in Women. J Urol. 2015 May 8. pii: S0022-5347(15)03909-9. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2015.04.101. [Epub ahead of print]

This study included 70 female subjects with interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS) and/or myofascial pelvic pain (MPP), plus 35 healthy control subjects. The investigators used ECG readings to measure heart rate variability, defined as the difference in duration of successive heartbeats. In this way, investigators were able to elucidate differences in the autonomic nervous system (the part of the nervous system that influences the workings of internal organs, such as the bladder) between IC/BPS patients and healthy controls. In particular, they found that IC/BPS subjects had specific measures of heart rate variability that were different not only from healthy controls, but also from patients with MPP. Taken together, the findings suggest that IC/BPS is associated with changes in autonomic function, while MPP is not. It’s possible that IC/BPS causes these autonomic changes, but on the other hand, the changes may actually be influencing how IC/BPS develops.