Blood pressure but not parental history for hypertension predicts pain perception in women

Mustafa N al'Absi, Karen L. Petersen, Lorentz E. Wittmers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Previous work has suggested an attenuated sensitivity to painful stimulation in hypertensive men. We recently reported that, compared with persons with negative parental history, men, but not women, with a positive history for hypertension showed attenuated pain perception. This study specifically addressed factors that predict pain perception in women, including blood pressure, parental history and mood states. Fifty-four normotensive women with positive (PH+; n=20) or negative parental history (PH-; n=34) for hypertension and high or low casual systolic blood pressure (BP) performed the cold pressor (CP) test. Participants rated their pain every 15 s during a 90-s hand CP (0-4°C) and a 90-s post-CP rest period. Detailed mood ratings were obtained immediately before the CP test. Data were evaluated using multivariate repeated measure analyses of variance and regression analyses. PH+ and PH- women did not differ in age, height, weight, education, resting BP, or heart rate. PH+ and PH- women did not differ in pain ratings during or after the CP, or pain ratings using the McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ), and they did not differ in their cardiovascular responses to the CP, confirming our earlier study in a separate sample. Women with high casual systolic BP reported significantly less pain, especially after the CP (P<0.01). MPQ total scores confirmed this finding with high BP women reporting less pain than low BP women (P<0.05). Regression analyses confirmed these effects. Controlling for potential confounding variables did not alter these relationships. These findings suggest that in women, phenotype systolic BP may be a better predictor of hypoalgesia than parental history of hypertension. Copyright (C) 2000 International Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-68
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Todd Amunrud, Katie Bellmont, Nicolas Crost, and Kevin Sullivan for assistance with data collection and management. This research was supported in part by grants from the Minnesota Medical Foundation, the University of Minnesota Graduate School Grant-in-Aid program, and the Whiteside Clinical Research Institute.


  • Blood pressure
  • Cold pressor
  • Hypertension
  • Pain perception
  • Women

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