Ghouse Mubarak1, Perumalla Rajasekhar2
Stroke (cerebrovascular accident) is an important cause of disability in countries like India and longterm care of these bedridden patients is usually undertaken by the family members. A caregiver is a person who takes responsibility for those who cannot completely care for themselves. Taking care of a chronically ill member in the family usually causes stress to the caregiver causing disturbances in the autonomic function. Thus, the present study is undertaken to find out the effect of longterm caregiving on cardiovascular autonomic functions in a caregiver.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
57 caregivers of post-stroke bedridden patients, both male and female, were included in this longitudinal study. Parasympathetic activity was assessed by observing the heart rate changes to immediate standing from lying down position, heart rate changes during deep breathing and heart rate changes during Valsalva manoeuvre. Sympathetic activity was assessed by observing blood pressure changes on immediate standing from lying down position and blood pressure changes during sustained hand grip.
The results of the present study showed statistically significant decrease in Valsalva ratio, decrease in the heart rate following deep breathing and statistically significant increase in systolic blood pressure in response to immediate standing suggestive of autonomic imbalance.
Our findings suggest that longterm caregiving is accompanied by dysfunction of the cardiac autonomic nervous system, and these individuals are more prone to autonomic neuropathy.