This study examined associations between blood pressure (BP) and dispositional variables pertaining to anger and hostility. Black and White 25- to 44-year old male and female normotensives and unmedicated mild to moderate hypertensives completed four reliable self-report scales--the Cook-Medley Hostility (Ho) Scale, the Trait Anger subscale of the State-Trait Anger Scale (STAS-T), and the Cognitive Anger and Somatic Anger subscales of the Cognitive-Somatic Anger Scale--plus the Framingham Anger Scale and the Harburg Anger Scale. They also engaged in three laboratory tasks--Type A Structured Interview (SI), a video game, and a cold pressor task--that elicit cardiovascular reactivity. Ambulatory BP readings at home and at work were also obtained from most subjects. Blacks had significantly higher Ho and lower STAS-T scores than did Whites. Women reported higher levels of somatic anger than did men. White women showed significant positive correlations between STAS-T and systolic BP (SBP) and diastolic BP (DBP) both at rest in the laboratory and during the SI. Black women revealed significant positive relationships between STAS-T and SBP and DBP at rest in the laboratory and at work as well as with DBP during the cold pressor test. For Black men, cognitive anger and DBP at rest were positively related. In contrast, White men revealed significant negative correlations between Ho scores and SBP at rest and during the video game; these men also showed significant negative relationships between somatic anger and SBP and DBP reactivity during the cold pressor test. Women, but not men, showed significant positive relationships between all four anger measures and ambulatory BP at work. Whereas main effects relating anger and cardiovascular measures were not apparent as a function of race, Blacks demonstrated significantly greater SBP and DBP reactivity than Whites during the cold pressor test, with the converse occurring during the SI. Men demonstrated significantly greater DBP reactivity than women during the video game. The present findings indicate that self-reports on anger/hostility measures and cardiovascular responses to behavioral tasks differ as a function of race but that relationships between anger and BP regulation need to take into account possible race-sex interactions and selection of anger/hostility measures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health