Exaggerated blood pressure responses during mental stress are associated with enhanced carotid atherosclerosis in middle-aged finnish men: Findings from the kuopio ischemic heart disease study

Thomas W. Kamarck, Susan A. Everson, George A. Kaplan, Stephen B. Manuck, J. Richard Jennings, Riitta Salonen, Jukka T. Salonen

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216 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Exaggerated cardiovascular reactivity to mental stress is hypothesized to increase atherosclerotic risk. We examined this hypothesis using cross-sectional data from the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease study, a population-based epidemiological sample. Methods and Results: 901 Eastern Finnish men from four age cohorts (age, 42 to 60 years) were administered a standardized testing battery to assess cardiovascular reactivity to mental stress. Ultrasound measures of intima-medial thickness (IMT) and plaque height from the common carotid arteries were used as noninvasive markers of atherosclerosis. Diastolic blood pressure (DBP) responses to mental stress were significantly associated with mean IMT (b=.021, P=.006), maximum IMT (b=.026, P=.013), and mean plaque height (b=.017, P=.041). Significant associations were also shown between stress-related systolic blood pressure (SBP) reactivity and mean IMT (b=.0151, P=.042). When examined separately by age, associations with IMT were significant only in the youngest half of the sample (age, 46 and 52 years, n=433; for mean IMT, DBP b=.033, P=.0002, SBP b=.0266, P=.003; for maximum IMT, DBP b=.039, P=.002, SBP b=.032, P=.011). Results remained significant in the younger subjects after adjustment for smoking, lipid profiles, fasting glucose, and resting blood pressure (b=.024, P=.011); results also remained significant in a subgroup of unmedicated younger subjects without symptomatic cardiovascular disease (n=135; for SBP reactivity, b=.031, P=.036; for DBP, b=.037, P=.007). Conclusions: The tendency to show exaggerated pressor responses to mental stress is a significant independent correlate of atherosclerosis in this population sample of Finnish men. The effect does not appear to be accounted for by the confounding influence of other risk factors or preexisting clinical disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3842-3848
Number of pages7
JournalCirculation
Volume96
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - 1997

Keywords

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Carotid arteries
  • Risk factors
  • Stress

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