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Chronic Stress Influences Cardiovascular and Neuroendocrine Responses

CITATION:  Matthews, K.A., Gump, B.B., Owens, J.F.  (2001) Chronic Stress Influences Cardiovascular and Neuroendocrine Responses During Acute Stress and Recovery, Especially in Men. Health Psychology Vol. 20, No. 6, 403-410

ABSTRACT:  This study tests the influence of chronic stress on cardiovascular and neuroendocrine responses to and recovery from acute stressors and whether the effects are gender specific. Sixty-two healthy, middle-aged persons (50% women) performed mental-arithmetic and public-speaking tasks and relaxed thereafter for 1 hr while their cardiovascular and neuroendocrine function was measured. Participants with higher levels of chronic stress showed lower systolic blood pressure (SBP) and epinephrine (E; men only) and marginally lower levels of norepinephrine (NE) responses to the tasks and showed lower levels of cortisol and marginally lower NE responses during recovery. Relative to women, men had high diastolic blood pressure (DBP) responses to the tasks and high SBP, DBP, and E responses during recovery. Gender differences in cardiovascular disease in midlife may be due to gender differences in the inability to recover quickly, in addition to enhanced acute-stress response.

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