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Hughes, BM,Howard, S
2009
September
Anxiety Stress And Coping
Social support reduces resting cardiovascular function in women
Published
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social support cardiovascular function life stress anxiety depression CORONARY-HEART-DISEASE BLOOD-PRESSURE DEPRESSION SCALE HOSPITAL ANXIETY MYOCARDIAL-INFARCTION UNITED-STATES REACTIVITY STRESS POPULATION MORTALITY
22
537
548
Social support is believed to benefit cardiovascular health in part by buffering recipients from life stress. Classically, this has been investigated by exploring the relationship between support and cardiovascular reactivity to laboratory stress. Such research customarily emphasizes stress responses and downplays the relevance of resting cardiovascular levels. However, it is now appreciated that resting cardiovascular function is associated with disease risk independently of reactivity. Moreover, such mechanisms are known to be relevant to female members of the population, despite the fact that much previous research has focused on males. Reactivity research rests on the assumption that stress promotes gradual hypertension over time. As such, it is important to establish the relationship between psychosocial factors and resting blood pressure. In a cross-sectional biopsychosocial screening study, we examined resting cardiovascular levels in 211 healthy nonsmoking women, using regression to assess associations with psychometric indices of social support (namely, perceived network size and perceived satisfaction with support) while controlling for a range of potential biometric and psychometric confounds. Overall, social support was found to be associated with reduced resting cardiovascular function independently of, and to a greater extent than, biometric variables, anxiety, and depression. Benchmarking these effects against the differences in cardiovascular function between the present sample and a group of 92 similarly aged males revealed that social support accounted for as much variance as gender, which is widely assumed to be an important biomedical determinant of blood pressure. Such findings corroborate assertions that social support influences disease risk in ways that involve direct psychosomatic mechanisms.
DOI 10.1080/10615800902814614
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