Perceived Racism and Cardiovascular Reactivity and Recovery to Personally Relevant Stress

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Abstract

This study evaluated cardiovascular responses (CVR) to an active speech task with blatantly discriminatory (BRC) versus neutral (NRC) stimuli and an anger recall task in a sample of Black men (N = 73; age 18 to 47). Diastolic blood pressure scores were higher for NRC versus BRC stimuli during anger recall (p < .05). Moreover, persons in the NRC group who perceived high levels of racism (vs. no racism or BRC group) during active speech showed larger increases in blood pressure across postspeech rest, anger recall, and subsequent rest (p < .03). The notable elevation in CVR in response to an ambiguous event extends current models of racism suggesting that subtle racism is a psychosocial stressor that erodes health through chronically elevated CVR.

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