Cardiovascular reactions to psychological stress and abuse history: the role of occurrence, frequency, and type of abuse

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2017
Authors
Conklin, Sarah M.
Ginty, Annie T.
Masters, Nicole A.
Nelson, Eliza B.
Kaye, Karen T.
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Keywords
Physical trauma , emotional trauma , diminished reactivity , adversity , Cardiovascular reactivity
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Abstract
Background and objectives: Extreme cardiovascular reactions to psychological stress have been associated with traumatic life experiences. Previous studies have focused on the occurrence or frequency of abuse rather than type of abuse. We examined how occurrence, frequency, and the type of abuse history are related to cardiovascular reactivity (CVR) to acute psychological stress. Design: The study consisted of between group and continuous analyses to examine the association between occurrence, type, and frequency of abuse with cardiovascular reactions to acute psychological stress. Methods: Data from 64 participants were collected. Heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure were measured at baseline and during a standard mental arithmetic stress task. Results: Individuals who experienced abuse showed diminished CVR to acute psychological stress; this was driven specifically by the history of sexual abuse. Frequency of abuse did not relate to stress reactions. Conclusions: These findings accord with previous work suggesting a relationship between traumatic life experience and hypoarousal in physiological reactivity and extend previous findings by suggesting the relationship may be driven by sexual abuse.
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Neuroscience
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Ginty, A.T., Masters, N.A., Nelson, E.B., Kaye, K.T., and Conklin, S.M. (2017). Cardiovascular reactions to psychological stress and abuse history: the role of occurrence, frequency, and type of abuse. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, 30(2): 155-162. doi:10.1080/10615806.2016.1210791
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Published article
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Taylor & Francis
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