Heart Disease and Cardiovascular Reactivity
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There has been a long-standing notion that exaggerated responses to mental stress are linked to the development of future heart disease (Hamer & Malan, 2010). Although not clinically meaningful in themselves, if heightened responses to stress are elicited on a regular basis, they might become clinically relevant over time. Existing work has largely focused on cardiovascular reactivity to stress as a tool to predict future risk. Blood pressure and heart rate responses to mental stress are largely augmented by the sympathetic nervous system and release of catecholamines. The issue of whether stress reactivity contributes to the progression of underlying disease or only to the incidence of clinical cardiac events has led to research involving indicators of subclinical disease. Several studies have indicated that heightened blood pressure and heart rate responses to laboratory-induced stressors predict future progression of subclinical...