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Cardiovascular effects of anxiety induced by interviewing young hypertensive male subjects

Journal of Psychosomatic Research
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0022-3999(82)90009-5
  • Medicine
  • Psychology


Abstract Nineteen (19) hypertensive (SBP > 146 and DBP > 90) 18-year-old men, whose elevated blood pressure was detected in connection with military drafting (HT group) were compared with 12 hypotensive (C H group) and 15 normotensive (C N group) subjects. Manually recorded blood pressures (SBP, DBP), heart rate (HR), ballistocardiography (IJ-amplitude) and peripheral pulse volume index (PPVI) were recorded. The product of heart rate and IJ amplitude, “cardiac flow index” (CFI) was also calculated. Each test session comprised a rest period (RP1), and interview period (IP) and a post-interview rest period (RP2). During interview the psychotherapeutic technique of challenging individual psychological defences produced a state of emotional uneasiness. This resultant emotional state was operationally defined as anxiety. Throughout the three periods, the HT group had significantly higher levels of SBP, DBP and HR, but did not differ from the other two groups in PPVI and in IJ-amplitude. Interview effects were highly significant on all parameters, most pronounced on DBP. The relations between SBP, DBP, CFI and PPVI changes during the interview suggested that the increase in blood pressure during the interview was caused by an increase in peripheral resistance rather than in cardiac output. The only significant difference among the three groups in cardiovascular reactions to the experiment was present in SBP. The HT group seemed to hyperreact: their SBP-levels rose higher and the reaction tended to be faster. The return to baseline tended to be slower. Pert of the subjects had consistently very small PPVI throughout the procedure. These subjects had more sustained blood pressure elevation and higher CFI than other subjects.

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