Effect of psychological stress on blood pressure increase: a meta-analysis of cohort studies

Cad Saude Publica. 2009 Apr;25(4):715-26. doi: 10.1590/s0102-311x2009000400002.


Studies have suggested that chronic exposure to stress may have an influence on increased blood pressure. A systematic review followed by a meta-analysis was conducted aiming to assess the effect of psychological stress on blood pressure increase. Research was mainly conducted in Ingenta, Psycinfo, PubMed, Scopus and Web of Science. Inclusion criteria were: published in any language; from January 1970 to December 2006; prospective cohort design; adults; main exposure psychological/emotional stress; outcome arterial hypertension or blood pressure increase > 3.5mmHg. A total of 2,043 studies were found, of which 110 were cohort studies. Of these, six were eligible and yielded 23 comparison groups and 34,556 subjects. Median follow-up time and loss to follow-up were 11.5 years and 21%. Results showed individuals who had stronger responses to stressor tasks were 21% more likely to develop blood pressure increase when compared to those with less strong responses (OR: 1.21; 95%CI: 1.14-1.28; p < 0.001). Although the magnitude of effect was relatively small, results suggest the relevance of the control of psychological stress to the non-therapeutic management of high blood pressure.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Young Adult