Degroote, Cathy

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Do Hypertensive Men Spy With an Angry Little Eye? : Anger Recognition in Men With Essential Hypertension - Cross-sectional and Prospective Findings

2022-08-30, Auer, Alisa, von Känel, Roland, Lang, Ilona, Thomas, Livia, Zuccarella-Hackl, Claudia, Degroote, Cathy, Gideon, Angelina, Wiest, Roland, Wirtz, Petra H.

Higher trait anger has inconsistently been associated with hypertension and hypertension development, but social context in terms of recognition of other persons' anger has been neglected in this context.Background Higher trait anger has inconsistently been associated with hypertension and hypertension development, but social context in terms of recognition of other persons’ anger has been neglected in this context.

Here, we investigated anger recognition of facial affect and trait anger in essential hypertensive and normotensive men in addition to prospective associations with blood pressure (BP) increases.

Baseline assessment comprised a total of 145 participants including 57 essential hypertensive and 65 normotensive men who were otherwise healthy and medication-free. Seventy-two eligible participants additionally completed follow-up assessment 3.1 (±0.08 SEM) years later to analyze BP changes over time. We assessed emotion recognition of facial affect with a paradigm displaying mixed facial affect of two morphed basic emotions including anger, fear, sadness, and happiness. Trait anger was assessed with the Spielberger trait anger scale.

Cross-sectionally, we found that with increasing BP, hypertensive men overrated anger displayed in facial expressions of mixed emotions as compared to normotensive men (ps ≤ .019) while there were no differences in trait anger (p = .16). Prospectively, the interaction between mean anger recognition and trait anger independently predicted BP increases from baseline to follow-up (ps ≤ .043), in that overrating displayed anger predicted future BP increases only if trait anger was high.

Our findings indicate an anger recognition bias in men with essential hypertension and that overrating displayed anger in combination with higher trait anger seems to predict future BP increases. This might be of clinical relevance for the development and progression of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.


Acute Stress-Induced Blood Lipid Reactivity in Hypertensive and Normotensive Men and Prospective Associations with Future Cardiovascular Risk

2021-07-30, Degroote, Cathy, von Känel, Roland, Thomas, Livia, Zuccarella-Hackl, Claudia, Pruessner, Jens C., Wiest, Roland, Wirtz, Petra H.

Hyperreactivity to stress may be one explanation for the increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in individuals with essential hypertension. We investigated blood lipid reactivity to the Montreal Imaging Stress Task (MIST), a psychosocial stressor, in hypertensive and normotensive men and tested for prospective associations with biological risk factors. Fifty-six otherwise healthy and medication-free hypertensive and normotensive men underwent the MIST. We repeatedly measured cortisol and blood lipid profiles (total cholesterol (TC), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and triglycerides (TG)) immediately before and up to 1 h after stress. Lipid levels were corrected for stress hemoconcentration. Thirty-five participants completed follow-up assessment 2.9 ± 0.12 (SEM) years later. CVD risk was assessed by prospective changes in TC/HDL-C ratio, IL-6, D-dimer, and HbA1c from baseline to follow-up. The MIST induced significant changes in all parameters except TC (p-values ≤ 0.043). Compared with normotensives, hypertensives had higher TC/HDL-C-ratio and TG (p-values ≤ 0.049) stress responses. Blood lipid stress reactivity predicted future cardiovascular risk (p = 0.036) with increases in HbA1c (ß = 0.34, p = 0.046), IL-6 (ß = 0.31, p = 0.075), and D-dimer (ß = 0.33, p = 0.050). Our results suggest that the greater blood lipid reactivity to psychosocial stress in hypertensives, the greater their future biological CVD risk. This points to lipid stress reactivity as a potential mechanism through which stress might increase CVD risk in essential hypertension.