International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 122–130

Cardiovascular Reactivity and Cardiometabolic Risk in Adolescents

  • Amanda J. Countryman
  • Patrice G. Saab
  • Neil Schneiderman
  • Judith R. McCalla
  • Maria M. Llabre



Cardiovascular reactivity has been examined as a risk marker or factor in the pathogenesis of hypertension or cardiovascular disease, but few have examined the relationship with the metabolic syndrome.


We examined whether cardiovascular reactivity to laboratory stress is associated with individual cardiometabolic risk factors and their co-occurrence. A significant positive relationship was hypothesized for both individual and clustered risk factors in their cross-sectional associations with reactivity to multiple stressors.


A sample of 144, 15–17-year-old adolescents (74 % boys) largely from ethnic minority groups (54 % Hispanic White, 26 % Black) were identified at annual blood pressure (BP) screening (39 % with elevated BP) at high schools in Miami, Florida, USA. Participants completed the evaluated speaking, mirror star tracing, and cold pressor tasks, as well as cardiometabolic risk factor blood sampling. Participants were classified into metabolic syndrome criterion groups (0, 1, 2, or ≥3 criteria) based on American Heart Association adult criteria.


Multiple regression analyses with individual metabolic syndrome variables demonstrated that diastolic (D)BP reactivity during the mirror star tracing task accounted for 1.3 %, 3.8 %, and 5.1 % of the respective variances in casual systolic BP, waist circumference, and triglycerides (ps < 0.05). In multinomial logistic regression models, increased DBP reactivity during mirror star tracing and cold pressor tasks, and decreased HR reactivity during the cold pressor, were associated with greater likelihood of risk factor co-occurrence (ranging from 8.3 % to 15.8 %).


Findings indicate that autonomic reactivity to the mirror star tracing and cold pressor tasks, but not the evaluated speaking task, is associated with risk factor co-occurrence, and reactivity may be a clinical prognosticator of cardiometabolic disease risk.


Cardiovascular reactivity Cardiometabolic risk Metabolic syndrome Autonomic dysfunction Adolescents 



Blood pressure


Heart rate


Systolic blood pressure


Diastolic blood pressure


High density lipoprotein cholesterol


Millimeters of mercury


Beats per minute

Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amanda J. Countryman
    • 1
  • Patrice G. Saab
    • 1
  • Neil Schneiderman
    • 1
  • Judith R. McCalla
    • 1
  • Maria M. Llabre
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MiamiCoral GablesUSA

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