Medicine: Summoning Up the Blood

Patient No. 6 looked "aged and physically enfeebled," but her manner was childlike. She was 42 when she told her story. Her disease: high blood pressure, ranging up to 250 systolic pressure (125 is about normal).*

Like the other 23 patients described in a recent book by five Manhattan doctors (Personality in Arterial Hypertension), her life had been sensationally unhappy. The doctors think this common factor significant. Is there some connection between emotional upheaval and high blood pressure? The doctor-authors speculate: emotional tension makes blood vessels constrict and cuts the flow of blood to the kidneys. The kidneys, short of blood, release...