Patrice G. Saab


(305) 284-5472
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1983Ph.D. , Ohio University

LIST OF SPECIALTIES: My research interests center on factors contributing to cardiovascular risk and on prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Research Projects

Cardiovascular reactivity and cardiovascular risk
I am interested in cardiovascular reactivity protocols for their capacity as a research tool that informs about mechanisms underlying blood pressure regulation under stress-induced conditions as well as for their capacity to distinguish individuals at differential risk for cardiovascular disease. I have demonstrated that groups at elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, e.g., menopausal women, hypertensive adults, and Black Americans exhibit exaggerated cardiovascular (and neuroendocrine) responses to laboratory stressors. Within the context of early detection, I extended this work to adolescents. I was interested in determining whether adolescents at risk for hypertension and future heart disease (and primarily from minority backgrounds) would show the same characteristic stress response as adults at risk for hypertension. Adolescents with persistently elevated casual blood pressure were more vascularly reactive across stressors than adolescents with labile blood pressure, who were more reactive than those with normal blood pressure. This finding suggests that enhanced vascular responsiveness to stress may be involved earlier in the development of hypertension than previously thought.

My research has also examined the cardiovascular risk factors, hemodynamic characteristics, metabolic syndrome rates, and target organ abnormalities of adolescents with elevated blood pressure compared with their normal blood pressure peers. Adolescents with elevated blood pressure have higher rates of clinically significant risk factors and target organ abnormalities than their peers. These findings indicate that elevated BP functions as an indicator of multiple risks in adolescents.

My prevention experience includes involvement in two major multicenter trials, the ENRICHD trial and the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP).  In addition, I have extended my work with adolescents with elevated blood pressure by conducting a randomized controlled trial to improve lifestyle (related to nutrition, physical activity, and stress management) as well as lower blood pressure.  The analyses indicated that a brief 1-session intervention that required parental involvement was more effective than the longer group-based interventions emphasizing adolescent self-management in lowering blood pressure.

This finding stimulated my current interest in brief interventions for youth as well as my interest in 'translating' the intervention to a field setting.  In February 2010, I began data collection for a randomized controlled trial comparing a brief and novel intervention on cardiovascular health knowledge, readiness for behavior change, self-efficacy for behavior change, and behavior (pertaining to nutrition, physical activity, and stress management) in high school students.  The centerpiece of the intervention is the 'Heart Smart' bilingual (English and Spanish) interactive exhibit that my collaborators at the Miami Science Museum and I have developed. The study investigates the extent that a museum-based health exhibit can lead to improved health-related outcomes and address a primary prevention need.

I conceptualize the exhibit as a community-based intervention that enhances health literacy and educates general museum visitors about the impact of behavioral choices (related to nutrition, physical activity, and stress) on heart health in a relaxed and nonthreatening setting.  The exhibit extends my reach, as an investigator to more individuals than would be feasible in a laboratory-based study. A unique feature of the exhibit is that it also invites visitors to anonymously contribute their data on body mass index, blood pressure, waist circumference, and self-reported health habits to the exhibit database through a series of interactives.


Saab, P.G., Bang, H., Williams, R.B., Powell, L.H., Schneiderman, N., Thoresen, C., Burg, M., & Keefe, F. "The impact of cognitive behavioral group training on event-free survival in patients with myocardial infarction; The ENRICHD experience" Journal of Psychosomatic Research , 67, 45-56 (2009).

Cugnetto, M. L., Saab, P.G., Llabre, M.M., Goldberg, R., McCalla, J.R., & Schneiderman, N. "Lifestyle factors, body mass index, and lipid profile in adolescents" Journal of Pediatric Psychology 33, 761-771 (2008).