Life stress, emotional reactivity and their relation to plasma lipids in employed women

Samuel Melamed*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The few studies exploring the association of chronic life stress with plasma lipid levels have yielded inconsistent results. However, these levels have been more consistently associated with the individual's state of emotional arousal. This study examined whether women prone to sustained emotional arousal in the face of emotional events would manifest elevated plasma lipid levels when exposed to chronic life stress. Subjects were 941 employed women free of medical factors potentially affecting plasma lipids. Proneness was measured by the emotional reactivity (ER) scale. Multiple regression analyses indicated that lipid levels were related neither to life stress nor to the life stress × ER interaction. However, ER was negatively related to HDL (p = 0.041) and positively to cholesterol/HDL (p = 0.006) and LDL (p = 0.063), even after adjusting for several possible confounders. Furthermore, women who scored in the upper third of the ER scale showed the highest proportion of ‘high‐risk’ LDL and cholesterol/HDL levels. These findings indicate that it is not reported life stress, but the propensity to experience sustained emotional arousal that is associated with chronic plasma lipid elevation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-175
Number of pages9
JournalStress Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronic life stress
  • emotional arousal
  • emotional reactivity
  • plasma lipids
  • women


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