Physical pain is a major trigger for changes in many homeostatic systems of the body physiology. Our aim was to study the relationship between blood pressure, metabolism and pain perception in subjects with chronic pain symptoms. This was undertaken in a population-based study in primary health care, including subjects with widespread pain (n = 16), or localized pain (n = 15), and pain-free controls (n = 14). The main outcome measures were office and ambulatory blood pressure, glucose, insulin, lipids, and beta-endorphin. Subjects with widespread pain were more obese and showed higher levels than controls (p < 0.05) of fasting glucose (4.9 vs 4.5 mmol/l), cholesterol (6.9 vs 5.8 mmol/l) and office systolic blood pressure (133 vs 120 mmHg), while the subjects reporting localized pain had values in-between. Ambulatory blood pressure, insulin and beta-endorphin levels did not differ between the groups. In conclusion, subjects with widespread and/or intense chronic pain have higher BMI, more pronounced metabolic disturbances and higher (office) systolic blood pressure, but not ambulatory blood pressure, than subjects without chronic pain. Future epidemiological studies are needed to test whether this is compatible with increased cardiovascular risk.
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