Title

Emotional Dampening in Persons with Elevated Blood Pressure: Affect Dysregulation and Risk for Hypertension

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

6-2013

Publication Title

Annals of Behavioral Medicine

Publisher

Springer

Abstract

Background

Persons with higher blood pressure have emotional dampening in some contexts. This may reflect interactive changes in central nervous system control of affect and autonomic function in the early stages of hypertension development.

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to determine the independence of cardiovascular emotional dampening from alexithymia to better understand the role of affect dysregulation in blood pressure elevations.

Methods

Ninety-six normotensives were assessed for resting systolic and diastolic (DBP) blood pressure, recognition of emotions in faces and sentences using the Perception of Affect Task (PAT), alexithymia, anxiety, and defensiveness.

Results

Resting DBP significantly predicted PAT emotion recognition accuracy in men after adjustment for age, self-reported affect, and alexithymia.

Conclusions

Cardiovascular emotional dampening is independent of alexithymia and affect in men. Dampened emotion recognition could potentially influence interpersonal communication and psychosocial distress, thereby further contributing to BP dysregulation and increased cardiovascular risk.