The focus of Dr. Krantz's research is on the effects of psychosocial stress on health and on the role of psychological factors in cardiovascular disorders— a field on the interface of health psychology and cardiology. Cardiovascular disorders are the largest cause of death in the U.S., and behavioral (e.g., smoking, exercise, etc.), and psychosocial factors (e.g., stress, lack of social support) are involved in the development, treatment, and prevention of these disorders.

Dr. Krantz is involved in several multi-disciplinary research programs relevant to the area of stress and health. In the military, over 3% of servicemembers report that they have received a heart disease-related diagnosis and combat exposure is associated with increased risk of developing coronary heart disease. For more than 25 years, Dr. Krantz’s primary focus has been on the effects of acute stress as a trigger of coronary heart disease events such as myocardial ischemia and malignant arrhythmias.  In this research, he collaborates with multi-disciplinary teams of cardiologists and psychologists. In his current research, he is Principal Investigator of the BETRHEART Study, which investigates the role of stress and psychosocial factors in the progression of heart failure.

Our lab is also working with colleagues in several medical disciplines on a “Brain-Heart Initiative” to study relationships among posttraumatic stress disorder, mild traumatic brain injury, and coronary artery disease among combat veterans. He also works with investigators at the USU Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress on studies in several areas relevant to stress effects on health in military populations, and is part of a workgroup examining psychosocial aspects of coronary disease in women.

In the past few years, we have found that chronic psychological stress is an important precipitating factor for short-term cardiovascular hospitalizations or death in patients with heart failure (Publication).  Most recently, an unpublished dissertation study by graduate student Andrew Dimond in our lab further found that chronic and acute perceived stress were predictive of hospitalizations for all causes in heart failure patients over a 3 year period.

In addition, a recent paper from our lab found that the psychological construct of Hostility and several components of Anger are predictive of hospitalizations that were not specific to cardiac causes. Mechanisms common to a variety of health problems, such as self-care and risky health behaviors, may be involved in these associations.

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