Blood pressure reactivity to psychological stress and coronary calcification in the coronary artery risk development in young adults study

Academic Article


  • A longstanding hypothesis is that individuals who exhibit large increases in blood pressure during psychological stress are at risk for atherosclerosis. We tested whether blood pressure changes during psychological stress predict subsequent coronary calcification (CaC) in young healthy adults. We evaluated 2816 healthy black and white women, 20 to 35 years of age, from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study, who were not using medication for hypertension or diabetes in 1987-1988. Participants completed video game and star tracing tasks while their blood pressure was recorded. Thirteen years later (2000-2001), they completed computed tomography measures of CaC. Overall 9.3% (261 of 2816) had CaC present at follow-up. Each 10 mm Hg change in systolic blood pressure during the video game was associated with a 24% increased odds of having CaC at follow-up (unadjusted odds ratio, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.06 to 1.46; P=0.008). This association persisted after adjustment for age, race, sex, education, smoking, alcohol, family history of myocardial infarction, smoking, daily alcohol consumption, body mass index, and resting or baseline blood pressure (odds ratio, 1.31; 95% CI, 1.08 to 1.58; P=0.006). Blood pressure changes during the star tracing task were not associated with subsequent CaC. Blood pressure changes during a video game predicted the presence of CaC 13 years later. To our knowledge, this is the first study that reports blood pressure reactivity to a stressor being related to calcification in the coronary arteries. Blood pressure reactivity may provide useful prognostic information about future risk beyond standard risk factors. © 2006 American Heart Association, Inc.
  • Published In

  • Hypertension  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Matthews KA; Zhu S; Tucker DC; Whooley MA
  • Start Page

  • 391
  • End Page

  • 395
  • Volume

  • 47
  • Issue

  • 3