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Psychosomatics. 1991 Spring;32(2):209-20.

Cardiovascular reactivity to psychosocial stressors. A review of the effects of beta-blockade.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, 92093-0804.


Fifty-nine studies examining the effects of beta-blockers on cardiovascular reactivity to psychosocial stressors are reviewed. Across all classifications of beta-blockers, heart rate reactivity was reduced (p less than 0.0001), while there were no significant changes in either systolic or diastolic blood pressure reactivity. Nonselective beta-blockers were more often associated with a reduction in heart rate reactivity than selective blockers (p less than 0.05). There was no evidence that drug lipophilicity or intrinsic sympathomimetic activity differentially affected blood pressure or heart rate reactivity; nor was there evidence that the reactivity of hypertensive subjects was differentially affected by blockade compared to the reactivity of normotensive subjects. While beta-blockers are effective in reducing resting blood pressure, they are not effective agents in reducing blood pressure reactivity to mild psychosocial stressors.

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