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Social Support and Cardiovascular Health

  • By: Michael L. Hecht & Lili Li
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Social support has many benefits including positive effects on health and well-being. Feeling that others have an individual's best interests at heart and will help the individual if needed seems to produce many positive effects. One of these involves cardiovascular health, where the beneficial effects of social support have long been recognized and recorded. Epidemiological studies show that compared to people with higher social support, people who experience lower social support have significantly higher rates of mortality caused by cardiovascular events.

On the other hand, laboratory studies also demonstrate fairly consistently that people with higher social support have less cardiovascular reactivity to stress (i.e., smaller magnitude of blood pressure and heart rate increase) compared to people who have little or no social support. Meanwhile, recent laboratory ...

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