Hypertension risk factors and cardiovascular reactivity to mental stress in young men

Mustafa al'Absi, Susan A. Everson, William R. Lovallo

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32 Scopus citations


Hypertension risk may be associated with increased pressor response to mental stress. However, studies using family history as a predictor of reactivity have obtained mixed results. We assessed cardiovascular responses to mental arithmetic stress (a 5-min serial subtraction task) in male medical students (n = 220) at three levels of hypertension risk based on parental history and the subject's systolic blood pressure (SBP): low (SBP < 125 mm Hg and 0 or 1 hypertensive parent), moderate (resting SBP ≥ 125 mm Hg or 2 hypertensive parents), or high (resting SBP ≥ 125 mm Hg and 1 or 2 hypertensive parents). High risk men showed the greatest blood pressure responses (+ 22/ + 16 mm Hg), while moderate and low-risk groups showed correspondingly smaller responses (+ 17/ + 13 and + 14/ + 11 mm Hg, p's < 0.02). Family history alone did not predict differential reactivity. This study replicates and extends our previous work suggesting the importance of using both family history and resting blood pressure level in determining future risk for hypertension in studies of cardiovascular reactivity in relation to hypertension risk in males.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-160
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1995


  • Hypertension
  • Mental arithmetic
  • Parental history
  • Reactivity
  • Risk factors
  • Stress


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