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Title: Socioeconomic position and cardiovascular and neuroendocrine responses following cognitive challenge in old age
Author(s): A. Steptoe, S.R. Kunz-Ebrecht, C. Wright and P.J. Feldman
Journal: Biol.Psychol.
Year: 2005
Volume: 69
Issue: 2
Pages: 149--166
Publisher address: Psychobiology Group, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, 1-19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 6BT, UK. <>
File URL: vuams-pubs/Steptoe_2005.pdf
Keywords: Adult, Aged, Aged,80 and over, Aging, analysis, blood, Blood Pressure, chemistry, Cognition, epidemiology, Female, Heart, Heart Rate, Humans, Hydrocortisone, Male, physiology, Pressure, psychology, Saliva, Social Class, Stroke Volume
Abstract: Social disparities in health persist into old age, and differences in psychophysiological responsivity may contribute to this pattern. We assessed whether higher socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with attenuated cardiovascular and neuroendocrine responses elicited by cognitive tasks in old age. We tested 132 community-dwelling men and women aged 65-80 years, divided on the basis of educational attainment into higher and lower SES groups, and compared them with 26 higher educated participants aged 27-42 years. Blood pressure, hemodynamic variables and salivary cortisol were assessed in response to the performance of three cognitive tasks, and then during recovery. Older groups showed smaller heart rate and larger cortisol changes than younger participants. Post-task recovery in heart rate, stroke volume, pre-ejection period, and systolic blood pressure was greatest in the younger group, least in the older/lower education group, and intermediate in the older/higher education group. SES did not influence the increased cortisol responsivity of older participants. The results are consistent with the notion that higher SES protects against age-related changes in cardiovascular response profiles, particularly during recovery

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