Heart rate variability is used to assess cardiovascular autonomic function. The cholinesterase inhibitor donepezil potentially affects parasympathetic activity. Twenty participants with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia with Lewy bodies were treated with donepezil in a pilot study. Power spectral analysis was used to analyse 5 min of beat-to-beat RR interval data in 15 cases. Heart rate variability was significantly reduced following treatment with donepezil; mainly for high frequency (median changed from 581 to 78 ms2; p = 0.001) but also for total power (median changed from 1,563 to 844 ms2; p = 0.047). Donepezil may adversely influence cardiovascular autonomic control. These results indicate the need for larger controlled trials to further investigate the cardiovascular effects of donepezil.
- Cholinesterase inhibitors
- Heart rate variability
- Power spectral analysis
- Autonomic nervous system
McLaren, A. T., Allen, J., Murray, A., Ballard, C. G., & Kenny, R. A. (2003). Cardiovascular effects of donepezil in patients with dementia. Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders, 15, 183-188. https://doi.org/10.1159/000068781