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Decreased pain perception and risk for hypertension: Considering a common physiological mechanism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 November 1999

CHRISTOPHER R. FRANCE
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, Ohio University, Athens, USA
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Abstract

For almost two decades, researchers have demonstrated that hypertension is reliably associated with decreased perception of pain. More recently, a growing body of evidence has begun to suggest that hypoalgesia is not a consequence of high blood pressure, as the phenomenon precedes the onset of hypertension in individuals at risk for the disorder. This article provides a review of empirical evidence of decreased pain perception in normotensive persons with a family history of hypertension, elevated resting blood pressure, or exaggerated cardiovascular reactivity to stress. Based on the existing evidence, hypoalgesia is argued to be a correlate of dysregulation of central nervous system structures involved in both pain control and cardiovascular regulation in individuals who are genetically predisposed to develop high blood pressure. As such, hypoalgesia may serve as a valuable method of identifying individuals at greatest risk for hypertension.

Type
FOR DISTINGUISHED EARLY CAREER CONTRIBUTION TO PSYCHOPHYSIOLOGY: AWARD ADDRESS, 1998
Copyright
© 1999 Society for Psychophysiological Research

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