Loyola University Chicago

Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing


Loyola to study how stress affects heart disease and stroke risk in women

Researchers enrolling African American and non-Hispanic white women at risk

MAYWOOD, Ill.– Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing researchers are recruiting women for a study to better understand how early life adversity and stress over one’s lifetime are related to risk of developing heart disease and stroke in African-American women compared to non-Hispanic white women.

“Stroke affects African-American women twice as often as non-Hispanic white women, which may be due to adverse psychosocial factors such as lower socioeconomic status and higher stress,” said Karen Saban, PhD, RN, APRN, CNRN, FAHA, study investigator and associate professor, Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing.

Evidence suggests that difficult life experiences alter how the body responds to stress resulting in greater inflammation. However, little is known about how these psychosocial factors contribute to stroke disparity between African-American women and non-Hispanic white women.

 “This study has the potential to clarify mechanisms that contribute to disease disparities in disadvantaged, minority women, which will help us to better manage this population,” Dr. Saban said.

Women eligible for the study must be between the ages of 50 and 75 and have risk factors for heart disease and stroke but no history of the diseases. Risk factors include being overweight, having high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of heart disease.

These women must agree to attend a one-time appointment at Loyola University Medical Center to undergo an acute social stress test. Participants also will be asked to complete a written questionnaire and have their blood drawn. This study does not require medication use and it will not interfere with a participant’s medical care. Participants may receive $100 for time and travel. 

For more information, call 708.216.1244.