Altered Cardiovascular Reactivity to and Recovery from Cold Face Test-Induced Parasympathetic Stimulation in Essential Hypertension


Lisa-Marie Walther et al. J. Clin. Med. 2021, 10,

Essential hypertension is associated with increased sympathetic and diminished parasympathetic activity as well as impaired reactivity to sympathetic stimulation. However, reactivity and recovery from parasympathetic stimulation in hypertension are unknown. We investigated reactivity and recovery to primarily parasympathetic stimulation by Cold Face Test (CFT) in essential hypertension. Moreover, we tested whether chronic stress modulates CFT-reactivity dependent on hypertension status. The CFT was conducted by applying a cold face-mask for 2 min in 24 unmedicated, otherwise healthy hypertensive men and in 24 normotensive controls. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) were measured repeatedly. Chronic stress was assessed with the Trier-Inventory-for-Chronic-Stress-Screening-Scale. Hypertensives did not exhibit diastolic BP decreases after CFT-cessation (p = 0.59) as did normotensives (p = 0.002) and failed to show HR decreases in immediate response to CFT (p = 0.62) when compared to normotensives (p < 0.001). Systolic BP reactivity and recovery patterns did not differ between hypertensives and normotensives (p = 0.44). Chronic stress moderated HR (p = 0.045) but not BP CFT-reactivity (p0s > 0.64) with chronically stressed normotensives showing similar HR reactivity as hypertensives. Our findings indicate impaired diastolic BP and HR reactivity to and recovery from CFT in hypertensives and a moderating effect of chronic stress on HR reactivity potentially reflecting reduced relaxation ability of the cardiovascular system. View Full-Text

Keywords: hypertensionparasympathetic stimulationCold Face Test (CFT)cardiovascular reactivitychronic stress

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