Emotional dampening in persons with elevated blood pressure: Affect dysregulation and risk for hypertension

James A. McCubbin, James P. Loveless, Jack G. Graham, Gabrielle A. Hall, Ryan M. Bart, Dewayne D. Moore, Marcellus M. Merritt, Richard D. Lane, Julian F. Thayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Persons with higher blood pressure have emotional dampening in some contexts. This may reflect interactive changes in central nervous system control of affect and autonomic function in the early stages of hypertension development. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to determine the independence of cardiovascular emotional dampening from alexithymia to better understand the role of affect dysregulation in blood pressure elevations. Methods: Ninety-six normotensives were assessed for resting systolic and diastolic (DBP) blood pressure, recognition of emotions in faces and sentences using the Perception of Affect Task (PAT), alexithymia, anxiety, and defensiveness. Results: Resting DBP significantly predicted PAT emotion recognition accuracy in men after adjustment for age, self-reported affect, and alexithymia. Conclusions: Cardiovascular emotional dampening is independent of alexithymia and affect in men. Dampened emotion recognition could potentially influence interpersonal communication and psychosocial distress, thereby further contributing to BP dysregulation and increased cardiovascular risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-119
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Alexithymia
  • Blood pressure
  • Central nervous system
  • Defensiveness
  • Emotion recognition
  • Hypertension development
  • Repressive coping
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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