Pub. date: 2004 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952576 | Print ISBN: 9780761923602 | Online ISBN: 9781412952576 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Heart Disease and Reactivity
Robert M. Kelsey
Longitudinal research indicates that excessive cardiovascular reactivity to stress is an important independent risk factor for the development of heart disease. Cardiovascular reactivity to stress refers to changes in cardiovascular activity (e.g., heart rate, blood pressure) in response to environmental demands, either physical or psychological, challenging or threatening. The term heart disease encompasses a variety of cardiovascular diseases, including essential hypertension (high blood pressure), coronary heart disease (coronary atherosclerosis), myocardial infarction (heart attack), and stroke. Despite significant advances in prevention and treatment, heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States. Traditional risk factors for heart disease, such as family history, smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes mellitus, predict only a portion of the new cases of cardiovascular disease that develop each year, so there is considerable room for improvement in prediction through the discovery of new risk factors. Psychosocial factors such as environmental stress and certain ...