The defense response and alcohol intake: A coronary artery disease risk? The SABPA Study
The behavioral defense coping response (DefS) as a measure of coping with emotional stress may increase alcohol intake (gamma glutamyl transferase (γGT)), the risk for coronary artery disease (CAD) and insulin sensitivity (homeostasis model assessment, HOMA). We assessed associations between coping and cardiometabolic risk markers in a bi-ethnic cohort (N = 390) from South Africa. Ambulatory blood pressure (BP) and ECG, fasting blood and coping scores were obtained. Africans, and mostly when utilizing DefS, showed higher 24h BP, a low-grade inflammatory state, central obesity, increased HOMA [4.07 (3.66, 4.47)] and more ST events compared to their Caucasian counterparts. ROC γ-GT analyses predicting 24-h ambulatory hypertension showed a higher γ-GT cut-point in Africans (55.4 U/l) than in Caucasians (19.5 U/l). Odds ratios (ORs) of γ-GT cut-points predicting 24-h ambulatory hypertension was evident in DefS African men [OR: 7.37 (95% CI: 6.71–8.05), p = 0.003] and in DefS Caucasians, albeit at a lower γ-GT cut-point (19.5 U/l). Higher γ-GT cut-points in DefS Africans or Caucasians were not associated with HOMA > 3. DefS accompanied by alcohol abuse in taxing emotional situations, if no social support is forthcoming, underscores a profile of reduced coronary perfusion. It may enhance vasoconstriction of the coronary arteries, with compensatory increases in BP, and induce a risk for future coronary artery disease.