Cardiovascular Health Implications of Combined Mental and Physical Challenge

Edmund O. Acevedo, Heather E. Webb and Chun-Jung Huang

in The Oxford Handbook of Exercise Psychology

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195394313
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Cardiovascular Health Implications of Combined Mental and Physical Challenge

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Acute physical and psychological stressors individually alter physiological homeostasis, and chronic psychological stress is considered a determinant of cardiovascular diseases including hypertension, stroke, and atherosclerosis. Military personnel, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and rescue workers are examples of individuals subjected to dual-challenge conditions—combinations of physical and psychological stress (i.e., mental stress, physiological exertion, and environmental and physical dangers)—in the course of participating in occupational challenges. These professions have also demonstrated increased rates of ischemic heart disease compared with other population cohorts. The present chapter summarizes the empirical studies that have addressed cardiorespiratory, neuroendocrine, and immunoinflammatory adaptations to dual-challenge conditions. It also explores plausible mechanisms that may help to explain the relationship between exposure to dual stressors and health outcomes, including cardiovascular disease.

Keywords: psychological stress; physical stress; cardiorespiratory; neuroendocrine; immunoinflammatory; cardiovascular disease; occupational challenges; obesity

Article.  18588 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Health Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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