Cardiovascular Reactivity to Psychological Stress & Disease

Cardiovascular Reactivity to Psychological Stress & Disease

Cardiovascular Reactivity to Psychological Stress & Disease

Cardiovascular Reactivity to Psychological Stress & Disease

Synopsis

The purpose of this volume is to evaluate the evidence concerning the cardiovascular reactivity hypothesis, which, in its simplest form, is that excess cardiovascular reactivity to psychological stress may constitute a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. This volume aims to further define, focus and refine this hypothesis by asking such questions as the following: What precisely do we mean when we speak of cardiovascular reactivity? What is properly considered excess reactivity? What is psychological stress? Is there a reliable relationship between stress and cardiovascular reactivity? What are the pathophysiological mechanisms that mediate the relationship between excess cardiovascular reactivity and its presumed endpoint, cardiovascular disease?

Excerpt

Jim Blascovich and Edward S. Katkin

The study of cardiovascular reactivity to psychological stress is motivated, in part, by its potential etiological significance for the relationship between individual differences in the experience of stress and cardiovascular disease, particularly coronary heart disease (CHD) and hypertension (cf. Matthews et al., 1986). Other contributors to this book review evidence that suggests the stability of individuals' cardiovascular responses across psychologically stressful situations (see Chapters 6 and 7), whereas still other contributors review evidence that demonstrates a relationship between cardiovascular reactivity to psychological stress and both CHD and hypertension (see Chapters 4 and 5).

The assumptions that there are stable individual differences in cardiovascular reactivity to psychological stress and that there is a causal relationship between such reactivity and disease have guided research across various empirical approaches. Within an epidemiological framework, cardiovascular reactivity to psychological stress should predict CHD and/or hypertension in the long run. Within an experimental/the-

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