Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Thermal Sensitivity and Cardiovascular Reactivity to Stress in Healthy Males

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Thermal Sensitivity and Cardiovascular Reactivity to Stress in Healthy Males

Article excerpt

This paper examines the association of cardiovascular reactivity with thermal thresholds (detection and unpleasantness). Heart period (HP), systolic (SBP) and diastolic (DBP) blood pressure of 42 health young males were recorded during a cardiovascular reactivity task (a videogame based upon Sidman's avoidance paradigm). Thermal sensitivity, assessing detection and unpleasantness thresholds with radiant heat in the forearm was also estimated for participants. Participants with differential scores in the cardiovascular variables from base line to task3 P65 were considered as reactors and those how have differential scores £ P35 were considered as non-reactors. Significant differences were observed between groups in the unpleasantness thresholds in blood pressure (BP) but not in HP. Reactors exhibited significant higher unpleasantness thresholds than non-reactors. No significant differences were obtained in detection thresholds between groups.

Keywords: cardiovascular reactivity, thermal sensitivity, unpleasantness threshold.

Este estudio investiga la relación entre la reactividad cardiovascular y la sensibilidad térmica (umbrales de detección y molestia). 42 varones jóvenes y sanos participaron en un experimento en el que se registraron el periodo cardiaco, la presión arterial sistólica y la presión arterial diastólica durante la realización de una tarea evocadora de reactividad cardiovascular (videojuego basado en el paradigma de evitación de Sidman). La sensibilidad térmica fue medida en todos los participantes mediante la estimación de los umbrales de detección y molestia en la piel del antebrazo con el método de calor radiante. Los participantes que presentaron valores diferenciales en las variables cardiovasculares respecto a la línea base ≥ P65 fueron considerados como reactores, mientras que los que obtuvieron valores diferenciales ≤ P35 se consideraron como no-reactores.

Se encontraron diferencias significativas en los umbrales de molestia entre los grupos de reactores y no-reactores en presión arterial, aunque no se encontraron diferencias en la reactividad del periodo cardiaco. El grupo de reactores presenta umbrales más elevados en la molestia que el grupo de no-reactores. No se encontraron diferencias en los umbrales de detección entre los grupos.

Palabras clave: reactividad cardiovascular, sensibilidad térmica, umbral de molestia.

Arterial hypertension is a severe and common medical condition in nowadays developed countries, being one of the main cardiovascular risk factors. Is also known as the "silent killer" since people suffering it are not aware of any symptom or external signal. Nevertheless, an elevated blood pressure (BP) is usually accompanied by the following behavioural symptom: a reduction on pain sensitivity (hypoalgesia). This symptom, that could be considered as a benefit of the hypertension can, in fact, generate quite negative consequences on health. Epidemiological data from the Framingham Heart Study show that hypertensive patients double the possibilities of not recognising a heart attack than normotensive. This is, probably, a consequence of the lack of sensitivity to the sources of pain that usually come along with myocardial infarction (chest pain). One of the first studies that connected hypertension and hypoalgesia was conducted by Zamir and Segal (1979) with spontaneously hypertensive rats. These rats experienced a genetically predisposition to develop hypertension. During the 4th week of life, they usually have normal BP levels, but by the beginning of the 12th week, they have already developed hypertension. Hypoalgesia is commonly developed among them by the 3rd week, indicating that this symptom precede the debut of hypertension and, therefore, could be related to the risk of developing hypertension rather than to established hypertension itself. Similar results were observed in humans afterwards. Hypertensive patients, in relation to normotensive, showed a reduction on pain thresholds when an electrical stimulation was inflicted on their tooth pulp (Ghione, Rosa, Mezzasalma, & Panattoni, 1988). …

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