Anxiety, anger, and neurogenic tone at rest and in stress in patients with primary hypertension.
To determine whether basal blood pressure or pressor responses to stress are related to sympathetic nerve tone or to psychological factors in hypertensives, 15 hypertensives and 13 normotensives were studied by mean of a self-administered questionnaire, isometric handgrip exercise (IHE), and the mental stress of serial subtraction. Plasma norepinephrine (NE), epinephrine (E), blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) were measured before and at the end of IHE and mental stress. A greater number of hypertensives had suppressed anger (p less than 0.01) and scored higher on anxiety trait (p less than 0.01) and depression (p less than 0.05). Prestress (IHE and mental) BP and NE values were significantly greater in hypertensives (all p less than 0.01). During IHE, both groups had a significant increase of BP, HR, and NE (all p less than 0.01) but E rose in hypertensives only (p less than 0.05). The percentage change of BP, HR, NE, and E during IHE was similar in both groups. The changes of BP and HR were not related to NE or E. During mental stress, HR (p less than 0.01) and E (p less than 0.05) increased in both groups. However, BP (systolic and diastolic) increased in normotensives only (p less than 0.01). Plasma NE contents were unchanged in both groups. There were significant positive correlations of anxiety trait with systolic BP (p less than 0.05), diastolic BP (p less than 0.05), and NE (p less than 0.05) and E (p less than 0.05). Although hypertensives had increased neurogenic tone related perhaps to inward anger and anxiety, the percentage responses of neurogenic tone and BP to IHE were equivalent to those of normotensives. The challenge of serial subtraction did not elicit further noradrenergic or pressor responses in hypertensives. Suppressed anger and anxiety, via increased basal neurogenic tone, may be pathogenic factors in some patients with primary hypertension.
- Copyright © 1981 by American Heart Association