Reduced cognitive performance and prolonged reaction time accompany moderate hypotension

Clin Auton Res. 2003 Dec;13(6):427-32. doi: 10.1007/s10286-003-0124-4.


The aim of the present study was to investigate the impact of hypotension on attentional and motor performance. Twenty-six moderately hypotensive subjects (mean systolic blood pressure = 108.8 mmHg) were compared to 29 normotensive controls (mean systolic blood pressure = 123.5 mmHg). The participants were presented with two standard German tests of attention ("Aufmerksamkeits-Belastungs-Test", Test d2; "Zahlen-Verbindungs-Test", ZVT). Additionally, reaction times to acoustic signals were measured. The hypotensive group showed significantly prolonged reaction times (p = 0.007) as well as reduced performance speed (p = 0.004) and lower concentration capacity (p = 0.014) in the test d2. In the ZVT as well a slightly poorer performance in hypotensives was observed (p = 0.088). Moreover, significant partial correlations between systolic blood pressure and the performance measures with age as covariate were found (performance speed: r = 0.28; concentration capacity: r = 0.22; reaction time: r = 0.33). A lowered cerebral perfusion in hypotensives and an altered activity of baroreceptors located in the carotid sinus are discussed as possible underlying psychophysiological processes mediating the relationship between blood pressure and cognitive performance. This study is the first to provide empirical evidence for the relation between attentional deficits and even moderately lowered blood pressure.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cognition*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypotension / physiopathology*
  • Hypotension / psychology*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity
  • Reaction Time
  • Systole