Blood pressure in healthy men and women under laboratory and naturalistic conditions

J Psychosom Res. 1990;34(6):675-86. doi: 10.1016/0022-3999(90)90112-h.


Thirty healthy nonsmoking men and 30 women underwent a laboratory reactivity assessment with systolic (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP), and heart rate (HR) recorded at rest and during behavioral (mirror image tracing, mental arithmetic, color word conflict task and a semistructured Type A interview), and physical tasks (isometric exercise and the cold pressor test). Causal SBP and DBP were measured in a physician's clinic. Four months earlier SBP, DBP and HR had been monitored during a day at work and a day at home. Readings obtained in the clinic, at rest and during stress in the laboratory were related to real-life levels, reactivity (work-home difference) and variability. For men level of cardiovascular activation at rest and during all stressors in the laboratory correlated with levels at work and at home. The best laboratory/real-life relation was observed for SBP. Systolic blood pressure levels during stress correlated with the work-home difference. Systolic blood pressure reactivity (laboratory stress levels - rest levels) to most behavioral tasks correlated with SBP levels at work and home. Daily variability and reactivity correlated with SBP reactivity to mental arithmetic and the color word conflict task. For women, levels of SBP and HR at rest and during all stressors correlated with SBP and HR at work and at home. The best laboratory/real-life relation for women was observed for HR reactivity. Casual BP in the clinic correlated with work blood pressure but generally not with daily reactivity or variability. We conclude that BP and HR levels measured in the laboratory generalizes to real life BP and HR in both men and women and also to real life SBP reactivity in men. Laboratory induced SBP reactivity also shows a weak relation to real life SBP levels, variability and reactivity in men.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arousal*
  • Blood Pressure*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reference Values
  • Social Environment*