Race and gender influence hemodynamic responses to psychological and physical stimuli


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Abstract

To evaluate factors influencing hemodynamic responses to psychological and physical stress, 117 normotensive college students were studied. The standardized tests included arithmetic, Stroop word–color, mirror draw, isometric handgrip and cold pressor challenges. The responses of blood pressure and pulse during the tests were compared to the baseline measurements. All the challenges produced a significant (P<0.01) increase in systolic and diastolic pressure and pulse rate, with the greatest increase being seen with the isometric handgrip test. The increases in the systolic and diastolic pressure and the heart rate to the psychological stressors were highly correlated (P<0.001). The responses to the physical stressors were correlated for the diastolic pressure (P<0.01) and the heart rate (P<0.001), but not for the systolic pressure. The responses of the systolic and diastolic pressure, but not the heart rate, to the isometric handgrip correlated with the responses to the psychological stressors. The responses of the diastolic pressure and the heart rate, but not the systolic pressure, to the cold pressor stimulus correlated with the responses to the psychological stressors. The gender influenced the response to all the stressors with males having a greater (P<0.05) blood pressure response and a lesser (P<0.001) heart rate response than females. Black subjects had greater blood pressure responses to the cold pressor test and a greater diastolic pressure response to the handgrip, but there were no observed racial differences in the responses to the psychological stressors. These observations provide new information concerning the similarities and differences in the hemodynamic responses of young normotensive adults to a variety of standardized stress maneuvers. They also demonstrate the significant effects of gender and race which must be considered.

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