Have you ever felt your blood pressure rise when you get angry or stressed? Well, this phenomenon is unique in that it links your emotional state to your cardiovascular state. Research into this particular field is lacking, but a team from Favaloro University in Argentina wanted to look into it more.
The study in question sought to identify if hypertension affected how one recognizes emotion. The team developed a testing method that would consider things like ethnicity, sociodemographic variable, and mental faculties. The team notes that many of the other studies in this field fail to account for these factors, leading to inaccurate results.
This new study brought together 116 volunteers from two countries split into hypertension patients and healthy patients. The patients were given a proven emotion recognition test commonly used to examine things such as neurological health. The group from the second country (name not given) also had a heart rate test (they had to keep track of their own heart rate) to test the group’s interoception (self-awareness).
Overall, the hypertensive patients performed poorly on every test compared to the healthy group. They were slower in recognizing negative emotions, and slower in identifying their heartbeats. There was no difference in how either group recognized positive emotions, though.
The results were also independent of wealth, ethnicity, and other factors that often confound data. The data from this study shows that hypertension patients were slower in recognizing negative emotions, which they suggest is because negative emotions tend to elicit stronger feelings than positive ones. The results from the heart rate test also show that hypertension patients are impaired in their interoception. These two results combined suggest hypertension causes a sort of deadening to emotional and internal stimuli. Whether it is a biological cause or mental, the team could not identify.
The study concludes, “Further efforts in this direction could contribute to improving the clinical evaluation of this deficit and eventually be tested as a critical marker for diagnosing the disease, tracking its evolution, and assessing the patients’ response to treatment.”