More frequent partner hugs and higher oxytocin levels are linked to lower blood pressure and heart rate in premenopausal women.

Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina, CB 7175 Medical Building A, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7175, USA.
Biological Psychology (Impact Factor: 3.4). 05/2005; 69(1):5-21. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2004.11.002
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In animals, ventral stroking for >5 days increases oxytocin (OT) activity and decreases blood pressure (BP), but related human studies are few. Thus, relationships between self-reported frequency of partner hugs, plasma OT and BP levels were examined in 59 premenopausal women before and after warm contact with their husbands/partners ending with hugs. Higher baseline OT before partner contact was associated with lower BP and heart rate, and met criteria to be a partial mediator of the lower resting BP shown by women reporting more frequent hugs (P<0.05). OT levels during post-contact stress were unrelated to hugs or BP. Menstrual cycle phase did not influence any OT measure. Thus, frequent hugs between spouses/partners are associated with lower BP and higher OT levels in premenopausal women; OT-mediated reduction in central adrenergic activity and peripheral effects of OT on the heart and vasculature are pathways to examine in future research.

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