The inverse relation between socioeconomic status (SES) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk has been posited to be partially due to exaggerated cardiovascular reactivity (CVR) to stress. Stress elicits hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activation (e.g., increased cortisol secretion), which may contribute to subsequent blood pressure (BP) elevation. Univariate associations among SES, cortisol secretion, and aggregated change scores to stressors (i.e., video game and forehead cold) for systolic BP (SBP) and diastolic BP (DBP) were assessed in a sample of 24 African American males (M age = 18.8, ± 2.7 years). Circadian variability of cortisol level was taken into account by partialling out collection time. Family SES was inversely related to initial cortisol level (partial r = -.46, p < .03). Neighborhood SES was inversely related to DBP reactivity (r = -.41, p < .05). The change in cortisol level during the stressor protocol was related to SBP reactivity (partial r = .44, p < .05). These results suggest that SES may be linked to CVD via BP and cortisol reactivity to stress, but prospective studies are needed to clarify whether such is the case.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health