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Positive affect is associated with cardiovascular reactivity, norepinephrine level, and morning rise in salivary cortisol


  • We would like to thank Dr. Michael Babyak for advice regarding the methodology used in the present manuscript. This research was supported by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institutes grant 3P01 HL036587, the Clinical Research Unit grant M01RR30l, NHLBI grant P01HL36587, and by the Behavioral Medicine Research Center Fund. Portions of this manuscript were presented at the citation poster session at the 2008 meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society in Baltimore, MD.

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Positive affect was examined as a predictor of (1) cardiovascular reactivity during a sadness and an anger recall task and recovery following the protocol, (2) epinephrine (EPI) and norepinephrine (NOREPI) reactivity and level during the recall protocol, and (3) the diurnal pattern of salivary cortisol. Sample was 328 individuals. Negative affect, age, race, sex, smoking status, income, and BMI were adjusted. During sadness recall, positive affect was inversely related to systolic blood pressure (p=.007) and diastolic blood pressure (p=.049) reactivity, and unrelated to heart rate (p=.226). Positive affect was unrelated to reactivity during anger recall (ps>.19), and was unrelated to recovery at the end of the recall protocol. Positive affect was inversely related to the mean level of NOREPI (p=.046), and unrelated to EPI (p=.149). Positive affect was inversely related to the increase in cortisol 30 min post awakening (p=.042), and unrelated to the evening decline in cortisol levels (p=.174). Positive emotions may be relevant to good health.