Intraindividual relationships between blood pressure level and emotional state

Psychother Psychosom. 1996;65(3):137-44. doi: 10.1159/000289065.


Background: Because of the increasing attention to the association between emotion and blood pressure (BP) during activity, there is a need to examine the subjects' own description of feelings in relation to different levels of BP during activity.

Methods: Fifty-eight Swedish subjects in six occupational groups were instructed to measure their own BP and subsequently record emotions at 1-hour intervals during waking hours. This was repeated during 4 different working days. Emotional states were recorded on a 4-point scale. Relationships between BP and each emotion were analyzed individually.

Results: One fourth of the subjects were unable to relate BP variations to emotional states whereas more than one tenth reported correlations between at least five different adjectives and BP. The number of adjectives correlated with systolic BP in an individual was linearly related to the individual's variation in systolic BP-the more significant the adjective the more systolic BP variation. Systolic BP increase with increasing job strain showed a curvilinear relationship with number of adjectives related to systolic BP-those with no significant adjectives and those with excessively many were those who showed the most increase in systolic BP with increasing job strain.

Conclusions: Despite the fact that subjects recorded their emotions after the BP measurement, as many as 25% were unable to see any relationship between emotion and BP. This groups as well as those who described many emotion correlates had marked elevations in systolic BP with increasing job strain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupations
  • Sampling Studies
  • Self-Assessment
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Sweden
  • Work / physiology
  • Work / psychology*