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Allostasis (literally “stability through change”) is a key concept for understanding how human behavior and physiological adaptation are related. The continuous variation in arterial blood pressure is an exemplar of allostasis. The purpose of this article is to describe theoretical and methodological developments that have led to an improved biocultural understanding of arterial blood pressure responses to everyday life in humans using allostasis as a paradigm. Arterial pressure variation is directly related to lifestyle, or more specifically, the things that people do, think, and experience in their daily lives. Allostatic patterns of arterial pressure variation also change with life‐history events. Patterns are altered as people age and take on differing social roles, and patterns vary between men and women. The cumulative effects of allostasis is the development of allostatic load, or a “wearing out” of the system. Studies have linked allostatic load to the development of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). However, the rate and trajectory of allostatic load through adult life is effectively dictated by developmental and evolutionary processes that impact allostasis and will vary among populations as a consequence of developmental, heritable, environmental, and cultural differences. Allostasis is the paradigm for biocultural studies of arterial blood pressure. [allostasis, adaptation, blood pressure, life history, biocultural]
American Anthropologist – Wiley
Published: Mar 1, 2020
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