Cholesterol Concentrations and Cardiovascular Reactivity to Stress in African American College Volunteers

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Cholesterol levels and cardiovascular responses to emotionally arousing stimuli were examined in 60 healthy African American males and females. Cardiac output, stroke volume, contractile force, heart rate, and blood pressure were measured as the participants viewed two racially noxious scenes on videotape. Total serum cholesterol, high-density lipoproteins (HDL), low-density lipoproteins (LDL), and triglycerides were measured within 2 weeks of viewing the scenes. Multiple regression analysis showed that LDL and HDL were significant predictors of blood pressure responses. A correlation analysis revealed that total serum cholesterol and LDL were positively correlated with stroke volume, contractile force, and blood pressure reactivity. A possible relationship among stress, β-adrenergic activity, and nonmetabolized free fatty acids is discussed. These findings suggest that cardiovascular reactivity to stress may be a new risk factor for heart and vascular diseases.

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