Sensory effects of baroreceptor activation and perceived stress together predict long-term blood pressure elevations

T. Elbert, B. R. Dworkin, H. Rau, P. Pauli, N. Birbaumer, C. Droste, C. H M Brunia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Activating the arterial baroreceptors in animals has been shown to blunt pain sensation and provide other forms of central nervous system inhibition. This study tested the hypothesis that, among human subjects, a tonic increase in blood pressure (BP) could be a learned response to environmental stressors among subjects in whom the baroreceptor inhibitory mechanism is active. In a sample of 96 healthy, normotensive men and women, amount of pain-reduction produced by baroreceptor stimulation predicted an increase in resting BP 20 months later: the increase was proportional to self-assessed daily life stress. Among the subjects reporting the greatest amount of stress, the pain inhibition effect accounted for more than 80% of the BP variance. These results support the hypothesis that the reduction in perceived stress produced by baroreceptor stimulation may reward learned increases in BP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-228
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Medicine
Volume1
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1994

Keywords

  • baroreceptor inhibition
  • blood pressure (BP)
  • hypertension
  • learning
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychology(all)

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