Cardiovascular risk factors for hypertension: The contribution of physiological, behavioral, and psychological characteristics

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

Patrice G. Saab - Committee Chair


The contribution of physiological, behavioral, and psychological risk factors for hypertension as relates to resting blood pressure were examined with hierarchical multiple regressions in 124 normotensive and mildly hypertensive black and white males and females. Casual systolic and diastolic blood pressure were assessed based on multiple readings averaged from two days of the study.Variables consistently showing the expected positive association with resting blood pressure included age, gender (males greater than females), and body mass index. Follow-up tests indicated that total peripheral resistance was a mediator for age and blood pressure, accounting for the relationship. A less consistent predictor was family history of hypertension, which although significant in the general diastolic model and diastolic interaction model, did not show significance in the models divided by gender.Gender differences emerged in examining males and females separately. While age and body mass index were significant for both males and females, the contribution of cold pressor reactivity varied by gender. For women, there was a positive association between cold pressor reactivity and blood pressure, whereas for men, there was a negative association. While the finding of increased reactivity is supported by the literature in this area, the negative association for males was unexpected and difficult to explain.The findings from this study suggest that gender may play a potentially important role in understanding contributors to resting blood pressure, and possibly future hypertensive status. Psychological factors appear to differ for men and women, yet these relationships to blood pressure are not fully understood. Further research is needed in order to clarify potential predictors and to increase comprehension of underlying mechanisms.


Health Sciences, Pathology; Psychology, Clinical; Psychology, Physiological

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