Parental history of hypertension, menstrual cycle phase, and cardiovascular response to stress.

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Abstract

The present study examined whether inconsistent findings for elevated cardiovascular response to stress in female offspring of hypertensives might be a function of 1) lack of control for menstrual cycle phase, and 2) stressor type employed. Thirty healthy women (18–35 years), half of whom were offspring of hypertensives, were tested in both the luteal and follicular phases of the menstrual cycle. Order of testing was counterbalanced between subjects and cycle phase was confirmed by measurement of serum sex hormone levels. In each session, subjects were exposed to four tasks: the cold pressor test, interpersonal speech, shock-avoidance video-game, and reading. The most consistent menstrual cycle effect was for offspring of normotensives who exhibited higher diastolic blood pressure and state-anger responses to the speech task in the follicular compared with the luteal phase. Though menstrual cycle had no consistent effect on offspring of hypertensives, their luteal phase diastolic blood pressure and state-anger responses to the speech task were elevated compared with controls. Potential limitations of the observed familial differences in luteal phase response are discussed.

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