Date of Award

Summer 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Director

Serina A. Neumann

Committee Member

Desideria S. Hacker

Committee Member

Michael L. Stutts

Committee Member

Richard W. Handel

Committee Member

Hamid Okhravi


The aim of the current study was to explore the effects of the medication Donepezil (Aricept®) on cardiac autonomic function for individuals diagnosed with mild to moderate (probable) Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Using age (± 3 years) and gender matched controls, differences in heart rate variability (HRV) among individuals with Alzheimer’s disease were compared to healthy controls over a period of six months (session 1 [baseline], session 2 [3 months], and session 3 [6 months]) in both supine and standing positions. HRV was obtained through frequency-domain (Low Frequency Power, High Frequency Power, RMSSD, LF/HF Ratio) and time-domain (six minutes) measures using ECG technology. Data were analyzed using 2x2x2 (AD group n= 12; HC group n= 12) and 2x2x3 (AD group n= 8; HC group n= 8) repeated measures ANCOVA’s while controlling for age, gender, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, medications, dose of Donepezil (Aricept®), alcohol use, caffeine use, and physical activity. Results from the ANCOVA did not reveal statistically significant between group differences for the HRV frequency-domain measures. However, data indicated a trend towards greater reductions in normalized high frequency power (parasympathetic depression) and greater increases in normalized low frequency power (sympathetic exacerbation) among the AD group versus healthy controls at all three time points despite the use of Donepezil (Aricept®).


The VIRGINIA CONSORTIUM PROGRAM IN CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY is a joint program of Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk State University, and Old Dominion University.


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