Differences in emotion processing in patients with essential and secondary hypertension

Silla M. Consoli, Cédric Lemogne, Bernard Roch, Stéphane Laurent, Pierre François Plouin, Richard D. Lane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


An impaired ability to experience and express emotions, known as alexithymia, has previously been associated with hypertension. Alexithymia and related emotion-processing variables, however, have never been examined as a function of the type of hypertension, essential (EH) or secondary (SH).MethodsOur working hypothesis was that if dysregulated emotional processes play a key neurobiological role in EH, they would be less present in hypertension due to specific medical causes or SH. A total of 98 consecutive hypertensive patients (73EH, 25SH) with similar blood pressure levels completed two complementary measures of emotion processing: the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) and the Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale (LEAS).ResultsAfter controlling for confounding variables, LEAS score was lower in EH than SH (estimated means: 46.4 vs. 52.0; P = 0.028; effect size 0.52). TAS-20 scores did not differentiate EH from SH, but the differences were in the expected direction, with an effect size of 0.34 for TAS-20 total score. Neither psychometric measure was associated with the duration of hypertension or the presence of cardiovascular (CV) complications.ConclusionsThese results are consistent with a contribution of an emotional or psychosomatic component in EH and may have practical implications for the nonpharmacological management of hypertension. They also demonstrate the utility of complementary measures of emotion processing in medically ill patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-521
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Hypertension
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Alexithymia
  • Blood pressure
  • Emotional awareness
  • Hypertension
  • Psychosomatic model
  • Questionnaires

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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