High Cardiovascular Reactivity to Stress

A Predictor of Later Hypertension Development
  • Kathleen C. Light
  • Andrew Sherwood
  • J. Rick Turner
Part of the Perspectives on Individual Differences book series (PIDF)


Recently, considerable debate has been sparked concerning the strength of published evidence supporting what has been called “the Reactivity Hypothesis.” This hypothesis, as most broadly defined, is that greater cardiovascular reactivity to behavioral stressors may play some role in the development of sustained arterial hypertension. Thus, when focusing on the wide individual differences in blood pressure, heart rate, cardiac output, or any other cardiovascular responses that are evoked by a stressor, it is postulated that the high reactors will have an increased risk of becoming hypertensive over time. Some researchers (Pickering & Gerin, 1990) do not find the current evidence supporting this hypothesis to be compelling, citing, among other things, the lack of many prospective investigations showing that high reactivity is a significant independent risk factor. Other authorities (Manuck, Kasprowicz, & Muldoon, 1990) prefer to see the glass half full rather than half empty, and they find the combination of a great deal of consistently supportive indirect evidence and positive results from the relatively few prospective studies to encourage further, better-designed tests of the Reactivity Hypothesis.


Blood Pressure Level Cold Pressor Mental Arithmetic Cardiovascular Reactivity Cold Pressor Test 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen C. Light
    • 1
  • Andrew Sherwood
    • 1
  • J. Rick Turner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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