Cardiovascular Reactivity and Stress: Introduction and Overview
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Cardiovascular reactivity research examines the alterations in cardiovascular activity that occur in response to environmental circumstances considered to be stressful. These circumstances are often discrete, identifiable stressors (such as short experimental tasks), but they can also be more long-lasting (such as a period of hours spent at work). Reactivity refers to a change in activity. As an example, consider heart rate reactivity. Its calculation requires a measure of heart rate during an unstressed period (often called a baseline period) and a measure of heart rate during the stressor. The easiest way of calculating reactivity, which has recently received renewed endorsement (Llabre et al., 1991; Pickering, 1991b), is to subtract the baseline level from the level of activity during the stressor. Thus, if one’s heart rate is 70 beats per minute (bpm) during the unstressed period and 100 bpm during the stressor, one’s reactivity score on this occasion would be 30 bpm. More rigorous description and definitions of reactivity will follow in later chapters.
KeywordsBehavioral Health Behavioral Medicine Psychosomatic Medicine Cardiovascular Reactivity Heart Rate Reactivity
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