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Am Heart J. 1988 Aug;116(2 Pt 2):617-27.

Hemodynamic response patterns to mental stress: diagnostic and therapeutic implications.

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Department of Medicine, University of Bonn, West Germany.


Stress has been identified as contributing to the development of cardiovascular disease. The pathophysiologic link between stress and disease still remains unclear. Because experimental stress testing in the laboratory permits the examination of the underlying mechanism for stress-induced blood pressure, analyses of cardiovascular reactivity during emotional stress could be of particular clinical importance. The analyses of pooled data during the past 6 years (n = 298, age from 20 to 60 years, normotensive subjects as well as patients with borderline and mild essential hypertension) reveal that stress-induced changes in stroke volume and especially in total peripheral resistance are crucial parameters to analyze the hemodynamic stress response. However, neither those simple nor complex response patterns such as "hot reactor" describe clinically distinct subgroups of persons. When physiologic testing was repeated in hypertensive patients after effective long-term antihypertensive therapy with clonidine, oxprenolol, nitrendipine, or enalapril, no attenuation of the stress-induced increase in blood pressure was found in any of these groups. However, heart rate reactivity and stress-induced changes in total peripheral resistance were altered significantly by oxprenolol and nitrendipine. The beta-adrenoceptor blocker decreased heart rate reactivity and increased reactivity of peripheral resistance; the calcium antagonist decreased stress-induced changes in peripheral resistance and increased the heart rate response. The centrally acting sympatholytic regimen and the angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor had no impact on the hemodynamic response pattern during emotional challenge.

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