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Effect of acute mental stress on electrocardiogram in obese individuals – A comparative study

Sumedha Kasarla, Priya S A, Tanuja Kilaru.


Background: Mental stress, an inevitable part of this era, is a challenge to the normal functioning of the human body. Moreover, it is seen those comorbid states such as hypertension, diabetes, and many other cardiovascular, metabolic disorders worsen this state of the body further. Obesity is one such comorbid condition. Hence, we aimed to study the effect of acute mental stress on electrocardiogram (ECG) changes to in obese individuals.

Aims and Objectives: The objectives of the study are to compare ECG parameters at rest and during mental stress in non-obese adults and compare the changes in ECG parameters during mental stress between non-obese and obese adults.

Materials and Methods: Forty-eight volunteers of age group 18–24 years of both the genders were divided into the control group (body mass index [BMI] < 25 kg/m2) and study group (BMI > 30kg/m2). A baseline 5 min ECG recording and another ECG recording of the same duration were taken during acute mental stress in both the groups. Paired and independent sample t- test was computed to compare the results within the group and in between the groups.

Results: There was a significant increase in mean heart rate (0.000) at rest in obese compared to non-obese. During acute mental stress, ECG parameters showed a significant increase in QT interval (P = 0.01) and in QTc (P = 0.028), decrease in T wave amplitude (P = 0.000), and mean heart rate increase (P = 0.000) in the obese individuals. Whereas in the non-obese individuals, acute mental stress caused significant increase in mean heart rate (P = 0.000), decrease in QRS complex (P = 0.043) and QT interval (0.05).

Conclusion: The ECG findings not only showed an increase in heart rate in response to acute mental stress in obese individuals but also showed subtle changes in other ECG parameters suggesting abnormalities in ventricular repolarization that may pose the obese individuals to cardiovascular disease risk as a consequence of mental stress.

Key words: Acute Mental Stress; Cardiovascular Disease Risk; Electrocardiogram; Mean Heart Rate; Obese Individuals; Ventricular Repolarization

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