Psychosocial factors associated with cardiovascular reactivity in older adults

P. P. Vitaliano, J. Russo, S. L. Bailey, Heather M Young, B. S. McCann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


This study examined associations of psychosocial factors with cardiovascular reactivity in two groups of men and women-spouse caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer's disease (M age = 69.4 N = 82) and controls (M age = 68.5, N = 78) group-matched for age and gender. Cardiovascular responses to an emotional task (speech sample about one's spouse) yielded higher systolic and diastolic blood pressures (SBP, DBP) than a spoken cognitive task, which in turn yielded higher BPs and heart rate (HR) than the baseline rest period. HR was greater in response to the two tasks than in response to the baseline period, but it did not differ across tasks. Regression models of SBP, DBP, and HR reactivity in response to the two tasks demonstrated that after controlling for hypertension and gender, combinations of hostility, anger expression, avoidance coping, Type A behavior and Expressed Emotion (criticism) explained more reactivity in response to the emotional (8-12%) than the cognitive task (4-7%). Caregivers were more reactive than controls only if they were hypertensive. Psychosocial factors may be as important in explaining reactivity in older adults as in younger adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-177
Number of pages14
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • anger
  • avoidance
  • cardiovascular reactivity
  • elderly
  • hostility
  • type A

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Psychology(all)


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