Socioeconomic status and central adiposity as determinants of stress-related biological responses relevant to cardiovascular disease risk

Andrew Steptoe, Tanja-Julia Hiltl, Jennifer Beam Dowd, Mark Hamer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
101 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Stress-related processes have been implicated in the associations between lower socioeconomic status (SES), central adiposity, and cardiovascular disease risk. This study analysed the impact of SES and central adiposity on cardiovascular, inflammatory and neuroendocrine stress responses, and associations with cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection in a sample of 537 men and women aged 53-76 years (mean 62.89 years). SES was defined by grade of employment (higher, intermediate, and lower categories), and central adiposity was indexed by waist-hip ratio (WHR). Cardiovascular, inflammatory and cortisol responses were monitored during administration of a standardized mental stress testing protocol and salivary cortisol was measured repeatedly over the day. Lower SES was associated with raised systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP), plasma interleukin (IL-6), fibrinogen, C-reactive protein, and salivary cortisol, and a large WHR accentuated SES differences in fibrinogen, C-reactive protein, and likelihood of CMV seropositivity, independently of general adiposity indexed by body mass index. During mental stress testing, return to resting levels (recovery) following behavioural challenge in systolic and diastolic BP and heart rate was impaired among lower SES participants, particularly those with large WHR. Lower SES participants had greater cortisol concentrations across the day, but this pattern did not vary with WHR. These findings extend the evidence relating lower SES to stress-related biological risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and indicate that central adiposity may augment these effects.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Early online date20 Nov 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Nov 2018

Keywords

  • Stress reactivity
  • Interleukin 6
  • Obesity
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Cortisol
  • Blood pressure

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