Psychosocial precursors of hypertension: a review of the epidemiologic evidence.
This article provides a selective overview of epidemiologic studies on the relationship between psychosocial factors and blood pressure elevation. The review focuses on English-language reports published since 1975 and emphasizes two broad areas of research: changes in mean blood pressures of third world populations undergoing modernization, and psychosocial correlates of elevated blood pressure in low socioeconomic status (SES) and black populations within the continental United States. The recent modernization studies provide additional evidence that rapid sociocultural change is associated with increased prevalence of hypertension. To account for these effects, several studies have advanced the general thesis that modernization impacts traditional value systems of third world populations in ways that frequently engender discrepancies between their newly acquired aspirations for a Western lifestyle and their socioeconomic resources to successfully pursue that lifestyle. There is overlap between this formulation and recent investigations of hypertension in low SES and black populations in the United States. The report concludes with a discussion of epidemiologic studies of anger and hypertension, emphasizing some of the complexities that characterize this area of research.
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