Stress Triggers Higher Blood-Pressure Increase In Prediabetic Women, UB Study Shows

By Lois Baker

Release Date: February 17, 1994 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The higher incidence of hypertension among diabetics may be related to the way their blood pressure responds to stress, according to a preliminary study involving prediabetic women conducted by researchers at the University at Buffalo.

Physicians have long known that diabetics have a higher-than-average risk of developing hypertension, but the reason for this relationship remains unclear.

To determine if the body’s blood-pressure response to stress could influence the relationship, scientists led by Bong Hee Sung, Ph.D., UB research associate professor of medicine, administered a standard mental arithmetic test to 10 healthy women with no history of diabetes and 10 women who were insulin-resistant, a prediabetic condition.

Both groups had normal blood pressure, although the insulin-resistant group’s readings were higher at baseline, and these women were considered obese, with an average weight of 195 pounds. The groups were similar in age.

During mental stress, the systolic blood pressure of the insulin-resistant group rose 16 percent and diastolic readings rose 24 percent, compared to 6 percent and 12 percent in the healthy group. There was also a mild increase in cardiac output and a significant increase in vascular resistance during stress in the insulin-resistant group.

“Although exaggerated blood pressure response to stress has been associated with future hypertension, it was not previously known that insulin-resistant persons were particularly susceptible to this response,” said Sung. “When challenged, the rise in this group was much greater than in the control group.”

“We have concluded that an exaggerated blood pressure response to stress in normotensive insulin-resistant women may be a marker for future hypertension,” she said. Sung noted that obesity in the insulin-resistant group also may play a role in the stress response, but the possible relationship requires further examination.

The research results were reported in Circulation and presented at the American Heart Association meeting in November.