Anger suppression, reactivity, and hypertension risk: Gender makes a difference

Abstract

The present study investigated gender-related differences in cardiovascular reactivity and the role of anger inhibition and risk for future hypertension.

Tonic blood pressure served as an index of hypertension risk. Twenty-eight female and 26 male college students with high and low normal blood pressure were recruited on the basis of their mean arterial pressure. Continuous measures of heart rate and blood pressure were taken while participants carried out a series of behavioral manoeuvres including mental arithmetic, interpersonal challenge, a frustrating psychomotor test, and the cold pressor test. Participants also completed inventories assessing trait anxiety, trait anger, anger expression, and Type A.

The results are in concordance with previous findings and show higher cardiovascular reactivity in men than in women and in subjects at risk for hypertension. Within the male group, a combination of hypertension risk and anger suppression led to the highest reactivity, whereas in female subjects, differences in anger-in had no effect on reactivity. The implications of these results are discussed in light of sex differences in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

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Correspondence to Claus Vögele.

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Vögele, C., Jarvis, A. & Cheeseman, K. Anger suppression, reactivity, and hypertension risk: Gender makes a difference. ann. behav. med. 19, 61–69 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02883428

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Keywords

  • Mental Stress
  • Mental Arithmetic
  • Cardiovascular Reactivity
  • Cold Pressor Test
  • Baroreflex Sensitivity