Anxiety and cardiovascular reactivity in the Tecumseh population

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ObjectiveIncreased cardiovascular reactivity has been proposed to be a critical mediator in the development of hypertension and cardiovascular disease. The personality factors associated with cardiovascular reactivity are still subject to debate. The studies reported here were undertaken to examine the relationship between trait anxiety and cardiovascular stress reactivity in a community-based sample (Tecumseh).Design and methodsAll studies were carried out in an outpatient setting. Cardiovascular reactivity to isometric handgrip and mental arithmetic was assessed and recorded by automatic blood pressure monitoring in 832 subjects aged 19–41 years. Spielberger trait and state anxiety measures were collected immediately before the stressors were applied.ResultsNo differences in baseline heart rate, systolic or diastolic blood pressure were observed across anxiety categories. There was a clear negative correlation between trait anxiety and cardiovascular reactivity to mental arithmetic. The pattern was less clear in response to isometric handgrip.ConclusionsThese results suggest that individuals with high trait anxiety demonstrate reduced cardiovascular reactivity while those with low trait anxiety demonstrate increased reactivity, whereas the opposite might have been expected.

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