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Still mulling over last night's argument? It could affect your heart

tional task tended to ruminate over the task and have higher blood pressure than students who were distracted from thinking about the task. While the difficulty of the task played no role in determining later blood pressures, those who experienced fear and nervousness during the test were able to clearly recall those emotions and re-create their cardiovascular response.

Chronic stress is considered an important factor in elevation of blood pressure, which is considered a major cause of heart disease. While many researchers have looked at the role played by relentless chronic stress, such as a demanding job or unstable home life, relatively few studies have focused on the lingering effects of even a single, emotion-laden stressful event.

High blood pressure affects at least 20 percent of all Americans. Chronically high blood pressure, a condition known as hypertension, can lead to heart attacks, atherosclerosis, strokes and kidney failure.

"Our study indicates that certain people may be at increased risk for developing heart disease, based at least partly on how they respond to stress," Glynn said. "Developing ways to intervene with rumination behavior and encouraging social support for these individuals may help prevent emotional stress from contributing to heart disease later."

Glynn and her colleagues have been studying how stress may lead to a number of disorders, including premature birth, neurological disorders and cardiovascular disease.


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Contact: Andrew Porterfield
amporter@uci.edu
949-824-3969
University of California - Irvine
23-Sep-2002


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