Race and cardiovascular reactivity. A neglected relationship.
The magnitude of the cardiovascular response to stress has been implicated in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease. Psychological stress procedures have received increased usage as an alternative to expensive physical (exercise) stress procedures. In the present investigation, 213 healthy, black or white, male or female children between the ages of 6 and 18 years were exposed to the psychological stress of a video game. The video game challenge was administered by a black or a white experimenter and was played under three levels of increasing stress, 1) personal challenge, 2) experimenter's challenge, and 3) experimenter's challenge accompanied by a financial incentive, while blood pressure and heart rate were monitored. Results indicated that the video games provoked significant and incremental cardiovascular reactivity across the games. Black children demonstrated significantly greater reactivity than white children; the racial difference was more reliably observed for systolic and diastolic blood pressure than for heart rate. Furthermore, the race of the experimenter exerted a significant effect and often interacted with the race of the child, such that greater reactivity occurred in same-race pairings than in mixed-race pairings. These results suggest that reactivity is affected by an individual's race and social milieu and that reactivity may be one mechanism responsible for the greater prevalence of hypertension among blacks.
- Copyright © 1986 by American Heart Association