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Keywords:

  • Blood pressure;
  • Hypertension;
  • Pain;
  • Baroreceptors;
  • Children;
  • Adolescents

Abstract

Elevated blood pressure is associated with diminished pain sensitivity. While this finding is well established in adults, it is less clear when the relation between blood pressure and pain sensitivity emerges across the life course. Evidence suggests this phenomenon may exist during childhood. Children (N = 309; 56% boys) aged 10–15 years and their parents participated. Blood pressure readings were taken during a resting baseline. Maximum pain intensity was rated using a visual analogue scale (rated 0–10) in response to a finger prick pain induction. Parent-measured resting blood pressure was inversely associated with boys' pain ratings only. Cross-sectionally, lower pain ratings were related to higher SBP, univariately. Longitudinally, pain ratings predicted higher DBP, even after controlling for covariates. Determining when and how the relation between blood pressure and pain sensitivity emerges may elucidate the pathophysiology of hypertension.