Sex differences in pain perception and cardiovascular responses in persons with parental history for hypertension

Mustafa Al'Absi, Tony W. Buchanan, Abner Marrero, William R. Lovallo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


We investigated gender differences in cardiovascular and pain responses to the cold pressor (CP) test in persons with positive (PH+) or negative parental history (PH-) for hypertension. Previous work has suggested an attenuated sensitivity to painful stimulation in hypertensive men and more recently in men with parental disposition for hypertension. It is not known whether this hypoalgesic effect is present in PH+ women. In this study, we evaluated differences in pain perception between men and women with PH+ or PH- using an assessment method to measure current as well as delayed pain. Participants rated their pain every 15 s during a 90-s hand CP (0-4°C) and a 90-s post-CP rest period. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures (SBP, DBP) and heart rate (HR) were measured before, during, and after the CP. PH+ and PH- groups did not differ in age, height, weight, education, resting SBP, DBP, or HR. PH+ men showed greater DBP responses to the CP than PH- men, while female groups did not differ in cardiovascular responses to the CP. Although pain ratings during the CP did not differ between groups, post-CP reported pain receded faster in the PH+ men than in the PH- men. PH+ women, on the other hand, tended to report greater pain than PH- women. These findings question the generalizability of the hypoalgesic effects in hypertension-prone women. Copyright (C) 1999 International Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-338
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1 1999


  • Blood pressure
  • Gender
  • Hypertension
  • Pain

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