Multicentric evidence of emotional impairments in hypertensive heart disease

Sci Rep. 2020 Aug 24;10(1):14131. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-70451-x.


The mechanisms underlying emotional alterations constitute a key research target in neuroscience. Emerging evidence indicates that these disruptions can be related to abnormal interoception (i.e., the sensing of visceral feelings), as observed in patients with cardiodynamic deficits. To directly assess these links, we performed the first multicenter study on emotion recognition and interoception in patients with hypertensive heart disease (HHD). Participants from two countries completed a facial emotion recognition test, and a subsample additionally underwent an interoception protocol based on a validated heartbeat detection task. HHD patients from both countries presented deficits in the recognition of overall and negative emotions. Moreover, interoceptive performance was impaired in the HHD group. In addition, a significant association between interoceptive performance and emotion recognition was observed in the control group, but this relation was abolished in the HHD group. All results survived after covariance with cognitive status measures, suggesting they were not biased by general cognitive deficits in the patients. Taken together, these findings suggest that emotional recognition alterations could represent a sui generis deficit in HHD, and that it may be partially explained by the disruption of mechanisms subserving the integration of neuro-visceral signals.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Emotional Regulation / physiology
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Facial Expression
  • Female
  • Heart Diseases / pathology
  • Heart Diseases / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / pathology
  • Hypertension / psychology*
  • Interoception / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged