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Anger suppression: its relationship to β-adrenergic receptor sensitivity and stress-induced changes in blood pressure

  • Paul J. Mills (a1) and Joel E. Dimsdale (a1)

While studies from diverse fields of research suggest a relationship between problems expressing anger and cardiovascular illness, few studies have provided a potential pathophysiological link of such a relationship. Forty-five males were classified according to one of three anger expression categories: those who did not suppress their anger (N = 13), those who partially suppressed their anger (N = 19), and those who definitely suppressed their anger (N = 13). For each, we determined lymphocyte β-adrenergic receptor function and blood pressure responsiveness to a standardized mathematics stressor. Those subjects who routinely suppressed their expression of anger had increased β-adrenergic receptor sensitivity (P = 0·01) (isoproterenol-stimulated cyclic AMP production) and a greater systolic blood pressure response to the stressor (P = 0·001). Anger suppression was unrelated to the subject's age, weight, or socioeconomic status. These findings may be germane to prior clinical and epidemiologic observations relating anger expression and cardiovascular illness.

Corresponding author
1Address for correspondence: Dr Paul J. Mills, UCSD, Department of Psychiatry (0804), La Jolla, California 92093, USA.
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Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
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