Davies, Thomas Sebastian (2011)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the western world. As accumulating evidence emerges that risk of developing cardiovascular disease increases with higher levels of blood pressure, the early detection of those with hypertension becomes an increasing priority. Blood pressure is influenced by numerous factors, including the properties of the large arteries. This thesis sought to examine the effects of acute physiological and psychological stress on indices of arterial function. During likely elevation of sympathetic outflow following isometric exercise, indices of conduit and central artery function indicated stiffening in excess of 10%. During and following acute mental stress the large arteries exhibited a similar stiffening response, despite decreased resistance in the peripheral vasculature. These decreases in arterial compliance resulted in increased amplitude and premature return of arterial pressure waves and lead to a 15% augmentation in central systolic pressure during both forms of stress. These findings may have important clinical implications as increased central pressure elevates left ventricular workload. During graded dynamic exercise, reduced arterial compliance was shown to have progressive influence on the interaction between the heart and the vasculature. These studies provide valuable insight into the cardiovascular response to physiological and environmental stress.
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