Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Nursing

Major Professor

Maureen E. Groer, Ph.D.

Keywords

Psychoneuroimmunology, Cytokines, Inflammatory response, Stress response, Negative emotions

Abstract

Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in American women, accounting for one in six deaths in 2004. One third of women over the age of forty will develop coronary heart disease in their lifetime. The role of chronic and excessive inflammation and risk factors, such as smoking and high cholesterol, are now well-established factors contributing to coronary heart disease pathology. A knowledge gap exists in that little is known about the mechanisms by which psychosocial factors, such as anger, may be associated with pro-inflammatory processes that contribute to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in women. The purpose of this study was to determine if there were differences in serum levels of the proinflammatory biomarker, C-reactive protein, in post-menopausal women who scored high on anger characteristics compared to those with low anger characteristics. Mean levels of C-reactive protein were not found to be different in a sample of 42 women with high trait anger or high anger expression compared to those with low trait anger or low anger expression. Significant relationships were found in C-reactive protein and some anger control characteristics (anger control-in) and might imply that certain anger expression styles may play a role in pro-inflammatory responses in post-menopausal women.

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