Cardiovascular Reactivity to Video Game Predicts Subsequent Blood Pressure Increases in Young Men: The CARDIA Study

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This study was undertaken to determine the relationship between heightened reactivity of blood pressure (BP) during stress and 5-year changes in blood pressure and hypertensive status, using the CARDIA study.


A total of 3364 participants (910 white men, 909 white women, 678 black men, and 867 black women), initially 20 to 32 years old and normotensive, were included. Cardiovascular reactivity to psychological stressors (video game and star-tracing tasks for 3 minutes, cold pressor test for 1 minute) was measured in 1987-1988. We then examined reactivity as a predictor of significant BP change (>or=to8 mm Hg, thought to represent a clinically significant increase) over the next 5 years. Logistic regression models were used to control for potential covariates. Significant BP change and the development of hypertension (BP greater than 140/90 or taking medication for hypertension) over the 5-year follow-up were examined in separate analyses.


Increased systolic blood pressure (SBP) reactivity to the video game was associated with a significant 5-year SBP increase among the entire cohort, independent of resting SBP (p < .0001). Subsequent analyses showed that this relationship held for men but not for women. Reactivity to the star-tracing task or the cold pressor test did not predict significant BP change. Among black men only, new hypertensives (N = 36) had greater diastolic blood pressure (DBP) reactivity to the video game (p = .01). Conclusions: Although BP reactivity to all physical and mental stressors used in this study did not consistently predict 5-year change in BP in this young cohort, the results indicate that reactivity to a video game stressor predicts 5-year change in BP and early hypertension among young adult men. These findings are consistent with other studies showing the usefulness of stressors producing a primarily beta-adrenergic response in predicting BP change and hypertension. The results may be limited by the shortened initial rest and recovery periods used in the CARDIA protocol.

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