An INSERM study involving 127 patients between 17 and 80 years old, published in the Annals of Neurology, has shown that “a change in heartbeat in response to sound stimulation is a good indicator of the state of consciousness”.
The study sought to establish whether a patient is in a “vegetative state”, “is awake but not conscious” or in a state “of minimal consciousness, which equates to a certain level of consciousness” in an attempt to “inform relatives” and initiate “appropriate treatment”.
By exploring “the interaction between the heart and the brain”, scientists have observed that “heart cycles were effectively modulated by auditory stimulation only in conscious or minimally conscious patients”. These findings supplement EEG results and should facilitate “a more precise evaluation of the state of consciousness at the patient’s bedside”.
CP Inserm (23/10/2017)