Serum lipids and cardiovascular reactivity to stress

L.J.P. van Doornen, D.I. Boomsma, H. Snieder

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Several studies have reported an association between serum lipid levels and cardiovascular reactivity to laboratory stressors. Their findings, however, are equivocal. The inconsistencies may be due to shortcomings such as the small number of subjects, the inclusion of patient groups, no control for medication, and no control for age effects. Two studies are presented investigating the relationship in large groups of adolescent and middle-aged males and females. Cholesterol, triglycerides and HDL were measured. Subjects were exposed to mental stressors, and in one study also to a cold presser test. In addition to heart rate and blood pressure, in one study impedance cardiography was used to measure pre-ejection period, stroke volume and total peripheral resistance. Canonical correlation analysis suggested an association between triglycerides and decreased cardiac reactivity to mental stressors in middle-aged females. Trends in the same direction were found in both middle-aged males and females with respect to reactivity to the cold presser. These associations, however, were not confirmed when the extreme deciles of the triglyceride distributions were compared with respect to stress reactivity. The fact that associations were completely absent in youngsters but sometimes showed up in older persons suggested an age dependency of the association. In post hoc analyses, indeed, some evidence was found for stronger cardiac responsivity bring associated with cholesterol specifically in relatively older males. In females, in contrast to this, the association between triglycerides and cardiac responsivity was stronger in the younger group. More detailed measurement techniques, of specifically vascular processes, may be needed to explore further the effects of sex and age on the association between lipids and stress reactivity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-297
Number of pages19
JournalBiological Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1998

Cohort Studies

  • Netherlands Twin Register (NTR)


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