Resting Plasma Lipids and Cardiovascular Reactivity to Acute Psychological Stress

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Prior research suggests that hyperlipidemia is associated with elevated blood pressure responses to acute stress but whether lipid levels influence underlying cardiac and vascular determinants of blood pressure during stress is not known. Thus, we examined whether lipids were associated with stress-induced blood pressure responses and responses of stroke volume (SV), cardiac output (CO), and total peripheral resistance (TPR). In 19 healthy university students (15 men), blood was drawn to measure lipid levels (triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol [LDL-c], high-density lipoprotein cholesterol [HDL-c], total cholesterol) after a 10-min rest period. Participants then completed a 6-min mental arithmetic stressor and a 3-min cold pressor (separated by a 10-min recovery). This procedure was repeated twice, approximately 6 weeks apart. Lipids and hemodynamic values were averaged across the two sessions. Multiple linear regression analyses revealed that a model including LDL-c, HDL-c, and triglycerides significantly predicted diastolic blood pressure (DBP), R2adj = .45, p = .007, and systolic blood pressure (SBP) cold pressor reactivity, R2adj = .35, p = .023. Individually, only LDL-c significantly predicted DBP, β = .64, p = .003, and SBP cold pressor reactivity, β = .64, p = .005. The same model marginally predicted CO, R2adj = .24, p = .069, and TPR, R2adj = 21, p = .091, reactivity to mental arithmetic, but only triglycerides were independently associated with CO, β = −.63, p = .012, and TPR, β = .54, p = .029 reactivity. Lipids were not associated with heart rate (HR) or SV reactivity. LDL-c was positively associated with the blood pressure response to the cold pressor, whereas triglycerides were positively and negatively associated with the TPR and CO responses, respectively, to mental arithmetic. Endothelial dysfunction and greater release of vasoconstrictors in those with high lipids may explain these relationships.

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