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Psychophysiology. 2011 Jul;48(7):1022-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.2010.01164.x. Epub 2010 Dec 16.

Cognitive ability and simple reaction time predict cardiac reactivity in the West of Scotland Twenty-07 Study.

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School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, England.


Few studies have examined the association between cognitive ability and cardiovascular reactivity, although both have been implicated in later cardiovascular disease. We studied the relationship between cognitive ability, assessed using the Alice Heim-4 test of general intelligence, simple reaction time, and subsequent cardiovascular reactivity in 409 55-year-olds. Blood pressure and heart rate reactions to an acute mental arithmetic task were measured 7 years after cognitive assessment. In regression models that adjusted for baseline cardiovascular activity, socio-demographics, body mass index, medication status, and stress task performance, cognitive ability and reaction time were associated with future cardiac reactivity. Low reactivity was characteristic of those with relatively low cognitive ability. The results are consistent with the notion that high reactivity may not always be a maladaptive response.

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