University of Oulu

Saarinen, A.I.L., Keltikangas-Järvinen, L., Hintsa, T. et al. Does Compassion Predict Blood Pressure and Hypertension? The Modifying Role of Familial Risk for Hypertension. Int. J. Behav. Med. 27, 527–538 (2020).

Does compassion predict blood pressure and hypertension? : the modifying role of familial risk for hypertension

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Author: Saarinen, Aino I. L.1,2; Keltikangas-Järvinen, Liisa2; Hintsa, Taina3;
Organizations: 1Research Unit of Psychology, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 2000 (Erkki Koiso-Kanttilan katu 1), 90014, Oulu, Finland
2Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
3Department of Educational Sciences and Psychology, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, Finland
4Department of Clinical Chemistry, Fimlab Laboratories and Finnish Cardiovascular Research Center-Tampere, Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology, Tampere University, Tampere, Finland
5Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
6Department of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine, Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland
7Centre for Population Health Research, University of Turku and Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-10-07


Background: This study investigated (i) whether compassion is associated with blood pressure or hypertension in adulthood and (ii) whether familial risk for hypertension modifies these associations.

Method: The participants (N = 1112–1293) came from the prospective Young Finns Study. Parental hypertension was assessed in 1983–2007; participants’ blood pressure in 2001, 2007, and 2011; hypertension in 2007 and 2011 (participants were aged 30–49 years in 2007–2011); and compassion in 2001.

Results: High compassion predicted lower levels of diastolic and systolic blood pressure in adulthood. Additionally, high compassion was related to lower risk for hypertension in adulthood among individuals with no familial risk for hypertension (independently of age, sex, participants’ and their parents’ socioeconomic factors, and participants’ health behaviors). Compassion was not related to hypertension in adulthood among individuals with familial risk for hypertension.

Conclusion: High compassion predicts lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure in adulthood. Moreover, high compassion may protect against hypertension among individuals without familial risk for hypertension. As our sample consisted of comparatively young participants, our findings provide novel implications for especially early-onset hypertension.

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Series: International journal of behavioral medicine
ISSN: 1070-5503
ISSN-E: 1532-7558
ISSN-L: 1070-5503
Volume: 27
Pages: 527 - 538
DOI: 10.1007/s12529-020-09886-5
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 515 Psychology
3121 General medicine, internal medicine and other clinical medicine
3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
3141 Health care science
Funding: Open access funding provided by University of Oulu including Oulu University Hospital. This study was supported financially by the Academy of Finland (M.H., grant number 308676); the Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation (T.L, M.H.); and the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation (L.P.-R.). The Young Finns Study has been financially supported by the Academy of Finland: Grants 322098, 286284, 134309 (Eye), 126925, 121584, 124282, 129378 (Salve), 117797 (Gendi), and 41071 (Skidi); the Social Insurance Institution of Finland; Competitive State Research Financing of the Expert Responsibility area of Kuopio, Tampere and Turku University Hospitals (grant X51001); the Juho Vainio Foundation; the Sigrid Juselius Foundation; the Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation; the Paavo Nurmi Foundation; the Finnish Foundation of Cardiovascular Research and Finnish Cultural Foundation; the Tampere Tuberculosis Foundation; the Emil Aaltonen Foundation; and Diabetes Research Foundation of Finnish Diabetes Association and EU Horizon 2020 (grant 755320 for TAXINOMISIS); and European Research Council (grant 742927 for MULTIEPIGEN project) and Tampereen Yliopistollisen sairaalan tukisäätiö.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 308676
Detailed Information: 308676 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2020. Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit