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05-06-2019

How trauma influences cardiovascular responses to stress: contributions of posttraumatic stress and cognitive appraisals

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Behavioral Medicine
Auteurs:
Sharon Y. Lee, Crystal L. Park, Linda S. Pescatello
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Abstract

Mechanisms for the association between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and cardiovascular diseases remain poorly understood. The present study examined associations among PTSD symptoms, appraisals of a current stressor, baseline cardiovascular indices, and cardiovascular responses to the stressor, including appraisals as a potential mediator of PTSD symptoms and cardiovascular responses. A sample of 125 undergraduates provided information about demographics, physical health, trauma history, and PTSD symptoms. Weight, height, blood pressure (BP), and heart rate (HR) measurements were obtained. During a modified Trier Social Stress Task, appraisals of the stressor were assessed and BP and HR were measured again. Findings suggest that PTSD symptoms are associated with current physical health (resting BP and HR) and more negative appraisals of the stressor; in turn, more negative appraisals were associated with increases in cardiovascular response. In particular, threat appraisal mediated the relationship between PTSD symptoms and increases in systolic BP response.

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