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Keywords:

  • Pain;
  • Hypertension;
  • Baroreflex;
  • Gender;
  • Nociceptive flexion

Abstract

We examined the effects of baroreceptor stimulation on nociceptive responding in men and women with a positive or negative parental history of hypertension. The effects of three baroreceptor conditions (stimulation, inhibition, and control) on subjective pain and nociceptive responding were evaluated during electrocutaneous sural nerve stimulation. Pain ratings were lower in men with positive parental history relative to men with negative parental history, but this difference was not found in women. Both stimulatory and inhibitory baroreceptor conditions were associated with reduced pain reports compared to the control condition. There were no significant differences in nociceptive responding as a function of parental history of hypertension. Although this study confirms a link between hypoalgesia and risk for hypertension in men, it does not support the hypothesis that this attenuated pain perception is due to enhanced baroreceptor activity.