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Circulation. 2004 Oct 12;110(15):2198-203. Epub 2004 Sep 27.

Exaggerated blood pressure responses during mental stress are prospectively related to enhanced carotid atherosclerosis in middle-aged Finnish men.

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1
Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, E1329 WPIC, 3811 O'Hara St, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA. JenningsJR@upmc.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Hemodynamic reactions to mental stress may contribute to atherosclerosis. We previously observed cross-sectional relationships between blood pressure reactions to a standardized stress battery and carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) in the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease (KIHD) study. These are the first prospective results on this relationship.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

Men from 4 age cohorts (42 to 60 years old at study onset) were challenged with a standardized mental stress battery, and heart rate and blood pressure reactions were assessed. Ultrasound measures of common carotid IMT were collected at this time and 7 years later as noninvasive markers of atherosclerosis. Data were collected from a sample of 756 men at both times. Systolic blood pressure reactions to mental stress at study onset were positively related to mean carotid IMT 7 years later (beta=0.035, P=0.001, by blood pressure quartile, IMT=0.91, 0.93, 0.96, 1.00 mm) and to the progression of IMT (beta=0.020, P=0.006, by blood pressure quartile, DeltaIMT=0.08, 0.09, 0.11, 0.11 mm). Similar significant relations were shown for maximal IMT and plaque height. Diastolic blood pressure responses were less strongly related to carotid IMT than were systolic responses. Heart-rate responses were unrelated. Adjustment for standard risk factors did not substantially reduce the relation between systolic blood pressure reactivity and the progression of mean carotid IMT (standardized beta=0.059, P=0.026), maximal carotid IMT (standardized beta=0.084, P=0.006), or plaque height (standardized beta=0.093, P=0.008).

CONCLUSIONS:

The degree of systolic blood pressure reactivity to mental challenge is prospectively related to carotid IMT in middle-aged and older men, independent of known risk factors.

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