To investigate the psychobehavioral factors involved in the isolated clinic blood pressure elevation and hypertension induced by mental stress.Design and methods
We studied 73 untreated patients with essential hypertension defined as World Health Organization stage I or II (28 men and 45 women, mean age 55 ± 11 years). The amount of isolated clinic blood pressure elevation was examined in terms of the difference between clinic and daytime ambulatory blood pressures. Blood pressure (measured using a Finapres device) and R–R interval (measured electrocardiographically) were continuously monitored with subjects at rest and under mental stress (counting backward) to examine the cardiovascular response to the stress. Psychobehavioral characteristics such as anger, anxiety, tension, type A behavior pattern, and nervousness were evaluated and scored using structured interviews and self-reporting questionnaires.Results
The anger score was inversely correlated to the clinic–ambulatory blood pressure difference for the systolic (r = −0.308, P < 0.01) and diastolic (r = −0.233, P < 0.05) blood pressures. The score for type A behavior pattern tended to be inversely correlated to the clinic-ambulatory blood pressure difference for diastolic blood pressure (r = −0.209, P < 0.1). The nervousness score was positively correlated to stress-induced increase in the systolic (r = 0.249, P < 0.05) and diastolic (r = 0.232, P < 0.05) blood pressures. The clinic-ambulatory blood pressure difference was not related to the blood pressure rise induced by mental stress (r = 0.170 for systolic blood pressure; r = 0.112 for diastolic blood pressure).Conclusion
The isolated clinic blood pressure elevation and hypertension due to mental stress were related to different psychobehavioral factors.