Blood Pressure-Related Hypoalgesia in Bulimia Nervosa

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Abstract

Objective

This study examined pain sensitivity and its relationship to arterial blood pressure in bulimia nervosa (BN).

Methods

Fourteen women who met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, criteria for BN, purging subtype, and 14 controls were tested for ischemic pain sensitivity after an extended baseline period. Blood pressure, cardiac output, stroke volume, and total peripheral resistance were assessed during baseline, during ischemic pain testing, and at the point of voluntary tolerance.

Results

Women with BN had significantly greater ischemic pain tolerance than controls. Additionally, only for BN women was blood pressure related to pain sensitivity. Systolic blood pressure during the pain procedure and at the point of tolerance was positively related to pain threshold and tolerance times and negatively related to rated unpleasantness of pain in BN, whereas no relationships involving blood pressure and pain sensitivity were observed in controls.

Conclusions

These results may have implications for maladaptive changes in central pain-cardiovascular regulatory systems for women with BN.

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