Stress, stress reduction and hypercholesterolemia in African Americans: a review

Ethn Dis. Autumn 1999;9(3):451-62.


Psychological stress may directly contribute to the disproportionately high rates of coronary heart disease morbidity and mortality and its etiologic risk factors in African Americans. Specifically, acute and chronic stress have been shown to raise serum lipids and are associated with clinical coronary events. The mechanisms by which stress contributes to alterations in lipid levels are not fully known, but various pathways (ie, hormonal, dietary, etc) have been implicated. Traditional methods for reducing blood serum lipids include diet, drugs or both. These methods have been criticized because of issues of compliance, side effects, and cost. Because of these limitations, nondrug behavioral methods are recommended by the National Cholesterol Education Program as the first line of prevention and treatment for hypercholesterolemia and other risk factors. Research shows that CHD morbidity and mortality and major risk factors may be modifiable by behavioral intervention. Specifically, the Transcendental Meditation technique, an effective antidote to stress, reduces levels of major CHD risk factors including hypercholesterolemia, as well as blood pressure and smoking. Using an effective stress reduction approach for prevention and treatment of CHD and its risk factors in African Americans may prove to be a valuable asset for this underserved population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • African Americans*
  • Comorbidity
  • Coronary Disease / psychology
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / drug therapy
  • Hypercholesterolemia / epidemiology
  • Hypercholesterolemia / therapy*
  • Meditation
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*