Cumulative Stress and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Women

Cumulative Stress and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Women
Cumulative Stress and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Women

Number of Participants



Inclusion criteria are: 1)Female between the ages of 50 and 70 years old 2)Postmenopausal 3)Either African-American or non-Hispanic white 4)Negative treadmill test within the last six months 5)Able to write, read and speak English 6)Must have at least two of the following: BMI >25 Total cholesterol > 240 Diabetes mellitus Systolic BP > 120 and/or diagnosis of hypertension and/or taking antihypertensive medication Atrial fibrillation Parental hx of MI prior to age 60 Exclusion criteria are: 1)History of myocardial infarction or ischemic heart disease/angina, left-ventricular hypertrophy, ischemic stroke 2)Abnormal treadmill stress test 3)Current smoker (smoked in past month) 4)Cancer 5)Active infection 6)Immune-related disorder (i.e. lupus) 7)Current substance abuse 8)Taking immune-altering drugs/glucocorticoids, anti-inflammatories


The purpose of this study is to better understand how early life stress and stress over one’s lifetime is related to one’s risk of developing heart disease and stroke in women.


Participants will be provided an appointment at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood and undergo the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). The TSST consists of participants making a speech in front of an interview panel of two to three people. The speech will be taped and/or video-recorded. Blood will be drawn from an intravenous catheter inserted at the beginning of the study. About 2 teaspoons of blood will be collected at five different times during the TSST. Blood samples will be analyzed for cholesterol, hemoglobin A1c (a measure that reflects blood sugar over time), cytokines (which reflect inflammation in the body) and global DNA methylation (which is also related to inflammation). Saliva samples will be assessed for a hormone called cortisol and cytokines. Blood pressure and pulse will be monitored throughout the procedure. Participants also will fill out written questionnaires to gather information about childhood stress, social status, mood, diet and exercise.

Principal Investigator


(708) 216-1244

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