Chronic Psychosocial Stress and Hypertension

Abstract

Genetic and behavioral factors do not fully explain the development of hypertension, and there is increasing evidence suggesting that psychosocial factors may also play an important role. Exposure to chronic stress has been hypothesized as a risk factor for hypertension, and occupational stress, stressful aspects of the social environment, and low socioeconomic status have each been studied extensively. The study of discrimination is a more recent and rapidly growing area of investigation and may also help to explain the well-known racial disparities in hypertension. Research regarding mechanisms underlying stress effects on hypertension has largely focused on cardiovascular reactivity, but delayed recovery to the pre-stress level is increasingly being evaluated as another possible pathway. Recent findings in each of these areas are reviewed, and directions for future research are discussed.

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Acknowledgments

Preparation of this article was supported in part by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, grants HL47540, HL76857, and HL86734. The sponsors had no role in the writing of the present report, or in the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

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Correspondence to Tanya M. Spruill.

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Spruill, T.M. Chronic Psychosocial Stress and Hypertension. Current Science Inc 12, 10–16 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11906-009-0084-8

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Keywords

  • Chronic stress
  • Blood pressure
  • Hypertension
  • Rumination