"No evidence from this study supports the hypertensive personality hypothesis," said lead author Joseph E. Schwartz, PhD, of the department of psychiatry at State University of New York, Stony Brook.
Previous studies have found those with high blood pressure to be angrier, more anxious, more depressed and more Type A than those with normal blood pressure.Studies have also found characteristics such as restrained aggression, inner tension and submissiveness to be associated with high blood pressure.
According to Schwartz
and colleagues, the findings of such studies may be misleading for several reasons.Obtaining accurate blood pressure measurements is inherently difficult, since many individuals test differently in a clinical environment."As many as 20 percent of all patients diagnosed with hypertension may have 'white coat' hypertension," said Schwartz
.Also, many studies fail to screen study participants for other cardiovascular diseases, which may skew results.
Another problem with previous studies on blood pressure and personality is their lack of consistency, according to the researchers.Some studies used standard psychological tests, some didn't.Some studies measured anger expression and not anger suppression, and some studies measured a range of variables while others measured only one or two, like anger and anxiety, for example."This variability makes cross-study comparisons difficult," said Schwartz
Using popular standardized tests, Schwartz
and colleagues measured a wide range of behaviors in 283 men, including anger, anger expression, anxiety, hopelessness and submissiveness.
In an earlier publication from this study, Schwartz
and colleagues found that men in highly demanding jobs with little decision-making power were more likely to have hypertension.
"The relationship between psychological variables and hypertension, if one exists at all, is probably quite complex," Schwartz
This research was supported in part by grants from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the American Heart Association