Encounters With People Affect Blood Pressure

Encounters With People Affect Blood Pressure

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Encounters with people for whom you have mixed feelings may be tougher on your blood pressure than meeting those you outright dislike.

Julianne Holt-Lunstad, an assistant professor of psychology at Brigham Young University, and her colleagues at the University of Utah studied 102 people and found that when they dealt with people they felt conflicted about, their blood pressure rose moderately.

Their blood pressure rose more around those people than it did when meeting people they disliked.

The study was co-authored by Bert Uchino, Timothy Smith and Chrisana Cerney, all of the University of Utah's Department of Psychology, and the findings were reported in Monday's edition of the American Psychological Association's journal, Health Psychology.

"When you're interacting with those you feel aversive or negative toward, these people are predictable and you will either avoid them or you can discount them because you know what to expect from them," Holt-Lunstad said.

"But for a person you feel both positive and negative toward, there could be hope and an expectation for something positive, and then, when you don't get the support you wanted, this can be very distressing," she said.

An ambivalent relationship, for example, may involve an employee who respects his or her boss but often becomes overwhelmed by the boss's demands or insensitive remarks.

The research found that people with strong family ties had less blood-pressure increase during negative interactions.

Participants in the study wore a blood pressure monitor on one weekend day and on two weekdays.

"We had them do that because we're looking at social relationships and we wanted to capture different -- personal, business, school -- relationships," Holt-Lunstad said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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