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Keywords:

  • Effortful active coping;
  • Heart rate;
  • Blood pressure;
  • Beta-adrenergic mediation;
  • Individual differences;
  • Family history of hypertension

ABSTRACT

Recent contributions to the literature on stress and hypertension are discussed. The significance of effortful active coping in evoking sympathetically-mediated heart rate and blood pressure increases is supported by results of studies involving both aversive and appetitive task incentives. Young healthy males who are above-average in heart rate during coping tasks show consistently higher heart rates and systolic pressures during other stresses as well, but are indistinguishable from less reactive persons when relaxed. Studies involving beta-blockade indicate that these above-average cardiovascular increases are partly due to a greater beta-adrenergic response among the high heart rate reactors. In addition, the parents of these high heart rate reactors report a greater incidence of hypertension than parents of low reactors, suggesting that high cardiovascular responses during active coping stress may reflect a high degree of susceptibility to later hypertension.