Relationship between resting blood pressure and laboratory-induced pain among healthy children

Kelly Haas, Qian Lu, Subhadra Evans, Jennie C.I. Tsao, Lonnie K. Zeltzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Adult studies have demonstrated that increased resting blood pressure (BP) levels correlate with decreased pain sensitivity. However, few studies have examined the relationship between BP and experimental pain sensitivity among children. This study investigated the association between resting BP levels and experimental pain tolerance, intensity, and unpleasantness in healthy children. We also explored whether these BPpain relationships were age and gender dependent. Participants underwent separate 4-trial blocks of cutaneous pressure and thermal pain stimuli, and 1 trial of a cold pain stimulus in counterbalanced order. A total of 235 healthy children (49.6% female; mean age 12.7 [2.9] years; age range 818 years) participated. The study revealed specific gender-based BPpain relationships. Girls with higher resting systolic BP levels were found to have lower thermal intensity ratings than girls with lower resting systolic BP levels; this relationship was stronger among adolescent girls than among younger girls. Among young girls (811 years), those with higher resting diastolic BP (DBP) levels were found to have lower cold intensity and unpleasantness as well as lower thermal intensity ratings than did young girls with lower resting DBP levels; these DBPpain response relationships were not seen among adolescent girls. Age, rather than resting BP, was predictive of laboratory pain ratings in boys. The findings suggest that the relationship between BP and experimental pain is age and gender dependent. These aspects of cardiovascular relationships to pain in males and females need further attention to understand their clinical importance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)388-398
Number of pages11
JournalGender Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011
Externally publishedYes



  • blood pressure
  • children
  • gender differences
  • laboratory pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies

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