Problematic Alcohol Use in College Students and Its Association with Cardiovascular Reactivity and Adaptation




Mishra, Akanksha

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Blunted cardiovascular responses to stress have been associated with alcohol use disorders, but the nature of the relationship remains largely unknown. Literature examining the relationship between cardiovascular reactivity habituation and alcohol use disorders has also been inconclusive. Recent research has noted the inadequacy of singular stress exposures and highlights the need to measure cardiovascular reactivity across multiple stress exposures as to obtain a more comprehensive cardiovascular profile. The present study investigated problematic alcohol consumption’s effects on cardiovascular stress reactivity, as well as cardiovascular reactivity over time. Two hundred and twenty healthy, young adults (mean (SD) age = 19.77 (1.59); 60.5% female; 64.1% Caucasian; 17.7% Hispanic) who all reported consuming alcohol on a regular basis, completed a single laboratory visit, which included two identical stress protocols. Blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) were measured during the baseline period and stress tasks, and problematic alcohol use was measured with the College Alcohol Problems Scale–revised (CAPS-r). There was a negative correlation between heart rate and the social subscale of the CAPS-r over the first exposure, while no significant relationship was indicated between any of the cardiovascular variables and the CAPS-r subscales over both exposures. These results emphasize the necessity of future research incorporating multiple stress exposures within their protocols.



Behavioral Medicine, Psychology and Neuroscience, Health Psychology