Family history of hypertension, gender, and cardiovascular reactivity and stereotypy during stress

Randall S. Jorgensen, B. Kent Houston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Thirty subjects with a family history of hypertension and 28 subjects without such a history performed a Stroop Color-Word Interference task, a mental arithmetic task (serial subtraction of sevens), and a shock avoidance task (repeating digits backward while expecting to be shocked for mistakes). Systolic and diastolic blood pressure and pulse rate were recorded while subjects anticipated, undertook, and recovered from the shock avoidance task and undertook and recovered from the Stroop and mental arithmetic tasks. It was found that compared to nonfamily history subjects, family history subjects manifested reliably greater cardiovascular reactivity during each task and in anticipation of the shock avoidance task. These results are congruent with the notion that excessive sympathetic nervous system reactivity-possibly genetically determined-is involved in the development of some form(s) of essential hypertension. Further, the results indicated that family history subjects manifested greater consistency, or stereotypy, of cardiovascular response across the experimental tasks than nonfamily history subjects. The possible role of cardiovascular stereotypy in the development of essential hypertension is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-189
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1981
Externally publishedYes


  • blood pressure
  • cardiovascular reactivity
  • cardiovascular stereotypy
  • family history of hypertension
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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