[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite the widely-held view that psychological stress is a major cause of poor health, few studies have examined the relationship between stressful life-events exposure and death. The present analyses examined the association between overall life-events stress load, health-related and health-unrelated stress, and subsequent all-cause mortality.
This study employed a prospective longitudinal design incorporating time-varying covariates.
Participants were 968 Scottish men and women who were 56 years old. Stressful life-events experience for the preceding 2 years was assessed at baseline, 8-9 years and 12-13 years later. Mortality was tracked for the subsequent 17 years during which time 266 participants had died. Cox's regression models with time-varying covariates were applied. We adjusted for sex, occupational status, smoking, BMI, and systolic blood pressure.
Overall life-events numbers and their impact scores at the time of exposure and the time of assessment were associated with 17-year mortality. Health-related event numbers and impact scores were strongly predictive of mortality. This was not the case for health-unrelated events.
The frequency of life-events and the stress load they imposed were associated with all-cause mortality. However, it was the experience and impact of health-related, not health-unrelated, events that proved predictive. This reinforces the need to disaggregate these two classes of exposures in studies of stress and health outcomes.
British Journal of Health Psychology 12/2007; 13(Pt 4):647-57. · 2.70 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Depression and exaggerated cardiovascular reactivity are considered risk factors for cardiovascular disease, possibly as a result of common antecedents, such as altered autonomic nervous system function. We examined the association between depressive symptomatology and cardiovascular reactions to psychological stress in 1608 adults (875 women) comprising 3 distinct age cohorts: 24-, 44-, and 63-year olds. Depression was assessed using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Blood pressure and heart rate were measured at baseline and during the paced auditory serial arithmetic test. Depression scores were negatively associated with systolic blood pressure and heart rate reactions, after adjustment for likely confounders such as sex, cohort, occupational status, body mass index, stress task performance score, baseline cardiovascular activity, antidepressant, and antihypertensive medication. The direction of association was opposite to that which would be expected if excessive reactivity were to mediate the association between depression and cardiovascular disease outcomes or if they shared common antecedents.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Age-related immunological and endocrinological changes may have implications for resilience to stress in older adults. We hypothesize that the combination of adrenopause and immunosenescence may leave this population particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of stress on immunity. We propose that exercise may be an effective intervention to limit the impact of stress on immunity in chronically stressed older populations.
Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews 02/2007; 35(1):35-9. · 5.28 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The presence of supportive others has been associated with attenuated cardiovascular reactivity in the laboratory. The effects of the presence of a spouse and others in a more naturalistic setting have received little attention. Blood pressure and heart rate reactions to mental stress were recorded at home in 1028 married/partnered individuals. For 112 participants, their spouse/partner was present; for 78, at least one other person was present. Women tested with a spouse/partner present showed lower magnitude systolic blood pressure and heart rate reactivity than those tested without. Individuals tested with at least one nonspousal other present also displayed attenuated reactivity. This extends the results of laboratory studies and indicates that the spontaneous presence of others is associated with a reduction in cardiovascular reactivity in an everyday environment; spouse/partner presence would appear to be especially effective for women.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Stressful life events exposure including bereavement, an event commonly experienced by elderly people, social support, marital status, and satisfaction were examined in relation to antibody response to the annual trivalent influenza vaccination in an elderly community sample (N=184). Antibody response was assessed at baseline, and at 1 and 12 months following vaccination. Taking into account baseline antibody titer, overall life events exposure and social support were not associated with response to any of the influenza strains. However, bereavement in the year prior to vaccination was negatively associated with the 1-month response to the A/Panama and B/Shangdong strains. Being married and having higher marital satisfaction was also associated with higher peak responses to the A/Panama influenza strain at 1 month. The positive association between marital satisfaction and A/Panama response was particularly evident in the younger half of the married sample. These associations largely withstood adjustment for potential confounders. Thus, in the elderly, peak antibody response was associated with bereavement and marriage, and not the more general factors, life events and social support, related to antibody response in student samples. This suggests the importance of taking a life course approach to examining relationships between psychosocial factors and immunity, and that interventions to modify the impact of these factors should address those most salient for each age group.
Brain Behavior and Immunity 06/2006; 20(3):279-89. · 5.61 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Whether chronic stress experience is related to downregulation of secretory immunoglobulin A (S-IgA) was tested in two substantial cohorts, one middle aged (N = 640) and another elderly (N = 582), comprising similar numbers of men (N = 556) and women (N = 666) and manual (N = 606) and non-manual (N = 602) workers. Participants indicated from a list of major stressful life events, up to six, they had experienced in the past 2 years. They also rated how disruptive and stressful the events were, at the time and now, as well as their perceived seriousness; the products of these impact values and event frequency were adopted as measures of stress load. From unstimulated 2-min saliva samples, saliva volume and S-IgA concentration were measured, and S-IgA secretion rate determined as their product. There was a negative association between the stress load measures and the S-IgA secretion rate, still evident following adjustment for such variables as smoking and saliva volume. The associations also withstood adjustment for sex, cohort, and household occupational status. Although these associations are small in terms of the amount of variance explained, they nonetheless suggest that chronic stress experience either decreases IgA production by the local plasma cells or reduces the efficiency with which S-IgA is transported from the glandular interstitium into saliva. Given the importance of S-IgA in immune defence at mucosal surfaces and the frequency with which infections are initiated at these surfaces, S-IgA downregulation could be a means by which chronic stress increases susceptibility to upper respiratory tract infection.
Brain Behavior and Immunity 04/2006; 20(2):191-7. · 5.61 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study determined whether stressful life events and social support were related to antibody status following both thymus-dependent and thymus-independent vaccinations. Life events in the previous year and customary social support were measured in 57 healthy students at baseline. Antibody status was also assessed at baseline and at five weeks and five months following vaccination with the trivalent influenza vaccine and the meningococcal A+C polysaccharide vaccine. Taking into account baseline antibody titre, high life events scores prior to vaccination were associated with lower responses to the B/Shangdong influenza strain at both five weeks and five months and meningococcal C at five weeks. Life event scores were not associated with response to the other two influenza viral strains nor response to meningococcal A. Those with high social support scores had stronger 5-week and 5-month antibody responses to the A/Panama influenza strain, but not to any of the other strains. These associations could not be accounted for by demographic or health behaviour factors, and also emerged from analyses comparing those who exhibited a fourfold increase in antibody titre from baseline with those who did not. Life events and social support were related to antibody status following influenza vaccination in distinctive ways that may be partly determined by vaccine novelty and prior naturalistic exposure. Life events also predicted poor antibody response to meningococcal C polysaccharide vaccination after previous meningococcal C conjugate vaccination. Neither psychosocial factor was associated with response to primary meningococcal A polysaccharide vaccination.
Brain Behavior and Immunity 08/2005; 19(4):325-33. · 5.61 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent versions of the reactivity hypothesis, which consider it to be the product of stress exposure and exaggerated hemodynamic reactions to stress that confers cardiovascular disease risk, assume that reactivity is independent of the experience of stressful life events. This assumption was tested in two substantial cohorts, one middle-aged and one elderly. Participants had to indicate from a list of major stressful life events up to six they had experienced in the previous 2 years. They were also asked to rate how disruptive and stressful they were, at the time of occurrence and now. Blood pressure and pulse rate were measured at rest and in response to acute mental stress. Those who rated the events as highly disruptive at the time of exposure and now exhibited blunted systolic blood pressure reactions to acute stress. The present results suggest that acute stress reactivity may not be independent of stressful life events experience.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study examined whether neuroticism was related to the antibody response to influenza vaccination and whether the relationship was mediated by cortisol reactions to acute laboratory mental stress. Antibody status was assessed at baseline and to a trivalent influenza vaccination in 57 students at 5-week and 5-month follow-up. Neuroticism was also measured at baseline. Cortisol was measured at rest and in response to a pressurized mental arithmetic task. At both follow-ups, higher neuroticism scores were associated with poorer A/Panama antibody response, following adjustment for baseline antibody titer. Higher neuroticism scores were also associated with blunted cortisol reactivity, and blunted cortisol reactivity was associated with poorer A/Panama antibody response, but only at 5 months. However, there was no conclusive evidence that cortisol reactivity mediated the association between neuroticism and antibody response.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study addressed the issue of whether frequent exposure to life events is associated with aggravation or blunting of cardiovascular reactions to acute mental stress.
In a substantial cohort of 585 healthy young adults, systolic and diastolic blood pressure and pulse rate were recorded at rest and in response to a mental arithmetic stress task. Participants indicated, from a list of 50 events, those they had experienced in the last year.
There was an overall association between life events and blunted cardiovascular reactivity that was driven by variations in the frequency of exposure to desirable events. The total number of events and the number of personal events were negatively associated with systolic blood pressure and pulse rate reactions to acute stress, whereas the number of work-related events was negatively associated with diastolic blood pressure and pulse rate reactivity. The negative association between total events and systolic blood pressure reactivity was stronger for women than men, whereas men exposed to frequent undesirable events showed enhanced diastolic blood pressure reactivity. The blunting of pulse rate reactivity associated with frequent personal life events was evident particularly for those who had a relatively large number of close friends.
The nature and extent of the association between life events exposure and stress reactivity in young adults depends on the valence of the events together with the sex of the individual and their social network size.
Psychosomatic Medicine 01/2005; 67(3):384-92. · 4.08 Impact Factor