Haemodynamic reactions to acute psychological stress and smoking status in a large community sample

Anna Phillips, G Der, K Hunt, Douglas Carroll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
181 Downloads (Pure)


Exaggerated haemodynamic reactions to acute psychological stress have been implicated in a number of adverse health outcomes. This study examined, in a large community sample, the cross-sectional associations between haemodynamic reactivity and self-reported smoking status. Blood pressure and heart rate were measured at rest and in response to a 3-minute arithmetic stress task. Participants were classified as current, ex-, or non-smokers by their response to a simple prompt. Smokers had significantly smaller SBP and DBP reactions to acute stress than ex- and non-smokers; current and ex-smokers had lower HR reactivity. These effects remained significant following adjustment for a host of variables likely to be associated with reactivity and/or smoking. Although the act of smoking acutely increases haemodynamic activity, the present findings contribute to a growing body of literature showing that smokers have blunted reactivity to mental stress. They also support the hypothesis that blunted reactivity may be characteristic of a range of dependencies. The present results also suggest that smoking status needs to be considered in the design and analysis of stress reactivity studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-278
Number of pages6
JournalInternational journal of psychophysiology : official journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2009


  • Smoking
  • Heart rate
  • Cardiovascular reactivity
  • Acute psychological stress
  • Blood pressure


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