A Longitudinal Study of Age-Based Change in Blood Pressure Reactivity and Negative Affect Reactivity to Natural Stressors

Rachel E. Koffer, Thomas W. Kamarck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective Aging is theoretically accompanied by emotional gains, but physiological self-regulatory losses. Emotional and physiological regulation can be operationalized as the extent of an increase in negative affect and blood pressure upon experiencing a stressor (i.e., reactivity). The direction of age-based changes in negative affect reactivity to stressors is uncertain. In addition, evidence for age-based increases in blood pressure reactivity to stressors is based largely on age-based differences observed in cross-sectional and laboratory-based studies. The present study is the first to examine long-term longitudinal changes in stress-related reactivity for both blood pressure and negative affect in the natural environment. Methods A total of 375 healthy adults aged 50 to 70 years completed 6 days of hourly ambulatory blood pressure assessment and electronic diary reports of social conflict and task demand and control. Two hundred fifty-five participants repeated 3 days of assessment in a 6-year follow-up. With reactivity operationalized as the change in an outcome in association with momentary social conflict, task strain, or task demand (i.e., a model-derived slope parameter), multilevel models were used to assess aging-based change in blood pressure and negative affect reactivity over the course of the 6-year follow-up. Results Aging is associated with increased diastolic blood pressure reactivity to social conflict and task demand (βsocial_conflict = 0.48, p =.007; βtask_demand = 0.19, p =.005), increases in negative affect reactivity to social conflict and task strain (βsocial_conflict = 0.10, p <.001; βtask_strain = 0.08, p =.016), and increases in systolic blood pressure reactivity to task-based stress (βtask_strain = 1.29, p =.007; βtask_demand = 0.23 p =.032). Conclusion Findings suggest age-based increases in affective and cardiovascular reactivity to natural stressors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)612-620
Number of pages9
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Volume84
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Ambulatory blood pressure
  • Blood pressure reactivity
  • Longitudinal analysis
  • Negative affect reactivity
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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