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Title: Alexithymia predicts attenuated autonomic reactivity, but prolonged recovery to anger recall in young women
Author(s): S.A. Neumann, J.J., III Sollers, J.F. Thayer and S.R. Waldstein
Journal: Int.J.Psychophysiol.
Year: 2004
Volume: 53
Issue: 3
Pages: 183--195
Publisher address: Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine Research Training Program, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, 4015 O'Hara Street, 506 OEH, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA.
File URL: vuams-pubs/Neumann_2004.pdf
Keywords: Adult, Affective Symptoms, Anger, Arousal, Autonomic Nervous System, blood, Blood Pressure, Data Interpretation,Statistical, Disease, Electrocardiography, Heart, Heart Rate, Hemodynamics, Humans, Male, Mental Recall, Personality Tests, physiology, physiopathology, Pressure, Rest
Abstract: Alexithymia has been prospectively associated with all-cause mortality and with cardiovascular morbidity. Here, stress-induced autonomic reactivity and recovery were examined as potential pathways linking alexithymia to cardiovascular disease. The relation of alexithymia to blood pressure, heart rate, and other cardiovascular parameters derived from impedance cardiography (N = 80) and heart rate variability (N = 40) was evaluated during rest, an anger recall task and recovery in women (ages 18-30). During anger recall, alexithymia was associated with significantly attenuated heart rate and stroke index reactivity, greater low frequency power, and with marginally dampened blood pressure and high frequency power reactivity. Overall, this response pattern suggests blunted sympathetic activation and diminished vagal withdrawal. Alexithymia was also related to slower diastolic blood pressure and quicker preejection period recovery implying abbreviated sympathetic arousal and possibly greater vagal modulation. These results impart some evidence for the hypoarousal model of alexithymia during reactivity, but the hyperarousal model during recovery. Autonomic dysregulation during and following acute emotional stress is suggested as a possible physiological pathway connecting alexithymia to cardiovascular disease

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