Stress Reactivity in Childhood and Adolescence

  • Bruce S. Alpert
  • Dawn K. Wilson
Part of the Perspectives on Individual Differences book series (PIDF)


Numerous investigators have sought to measure cardiovascular reactivity (i.e., response to acute stress) in healthy individuals before manifestations of cardiovascular disease are apparent. In this light, cardiovascular reactivity could serve as either a marker or a mechanism for the development of essential hypertension or coronary disease. As a marker, hyperreactivity is conceptualized as a consequence of preexisting cardiovascular damage or of heightened sympathetic tone that results in vasoconstriction and/or excessive myocardial work (cardiac output). As a mechanism, hyperreactive peaks are thought to damage the intimal layer of arteries, resulting in arteriosclerosis and/or subsequent hypertension. An alternative hypothesis suggests that hyperreactive peaks cause greater release of mitogens, which result in hypertrophy of smooth muscles. Whether hyperreactivity is found to be a mechanism of essential hypertension evolution or a marker for future essential hypertension, further research is warranted. This association would allow detection of individuals at the highest risk, and, possibly, lead to primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. The study of children and adolescents is extremely valuable because in these populations, cardiovascular disease is minimally present and potentially reversible.


Cardiovascular Response Blood Pressure Response Cardiovascular Reactivity Black Child Heart Rate Reactivity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce S. Alpert
    • 1
  • Dawn K. Wilson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsUniversity of TennesseeMemphisUSA

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