Effect of Cold Stress and the Cold Pressor Test on Blood Pressure and Heart Rate

  • Hajra Banoo Department of Physiology Rama Medical College, Hospital & Research Centre, Kanpur
  • Vibha Gangwar Department of Physiology Rama medical college, hospital & Research Centre, Kanpur
  • Nusrat Nabi Department of Pharmacology, Rama medical college, hospital & Research Centre, Kanpur
Keywords: Cold pressor test, Blood pressure, Heart rate


Background: Temperature and other environmental stressors are known to affect blood pressure and heart rate. The cold pressor test is used clinically to evaluate autonomic and left ventricular functions.

Aims: This project was done to test the hypothesis that blood pressure and heart rate is altered during the cold pressor test.

Methods: Students performed the cold pressor test, to study the change in blood pressure following an environmental stress. 40 medical students from the Ist year MBBS batches were selected and tested for cold pressor test during 1 to 2 min immersion of one hand in ice water. This test used cold as a stressful stimulus. The response of the subject was measured by the change in blood pressure and heart rate after the application of cold stimulus.

Results: The study showed that the correlation between Anxiety state scores and cold pressor test response was not significant statistically. The correlation between Anxiety trait scores and cold pressor test response was also not significant statistically.

Conclusion: The results indicate that the blood pressure and heart rate increases following an environmental stress. This activity can be easily adapted and students can learn about the test and carry out the test on their classmates.


Download data is not yet available.


1. Rajan AI. Correlation of Anxiety& Cold Pressor Test in Young Adults. Indian Journal of Research. 2014; 3(2): 210-211. DOI: 10.15373/22501991.
2. Malmo, Amsel. Quoted by Upadhyay, Sripathy. Anxiety, a multidimensional study, Rupa Psychology Centre. First Edition, 1978; 125.
3. Hines EA, Brown GE. The cold pressor test for measuring the reactivity of the blood pressure: data concerning 571 normal and hypertensive subjects. Am Heart J.1936; 11(1): 1–9. DOI: 10.1016/S0002-8703(36)90370-8.
4. Silverthorn DU, Michael J. Cold stress and the cold pressor test. Adv Physiol Educ. 2013; 37(1): 93–96. DOI: 10.1152/advan.00002.2013.
5. Von Baeyer CL, Piira T, Chambers CT, Trapanotto M, Zeltzer LK. Guidelines for the cold pressor task as an experimental pain stimulus for use with children. J Pain. 2005; 6(4): 218–227.
6. Northcote RJ, Cooke MB. How useful are the cold pressor test and sustained isometric handgrip exercise with radionuclide ventriculography in the evaluation of patients with coronary artery disease? Br Heart J.1987; 57(4): 319–328
7. Wirch JL, Wolfe LA, Weissgerber TL, Davies GAL. Cold pressor test protocol to evaluate cardiac autonomic function. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab.2006; 31(3): 235–243.
8. Halter JB, Stratton JR, and Pfeifer MA. Plasma catecholamines and hemodynamic responses to stress states in man. Acta Physiol Scand. 1984; 527 (Suppl): 31–38.
9. Nitenberg A, Valensi P, Sachs R, Cosson E, Attali JR, Antony I. Prognostic value of epicardial coronary artery constriction to the cold pressor test in type 2 diabetic patients with angiographically normal coronary arteries and no other major coronary risk factors. Diabetes Care. 2004; 27(1): 208–215.
10. Wood DL, Sheps SG, Elveback LR, Schirger A. Cold pressor test is a predictor of hypertension. Hypertension. 1984; 6: 301–306. DOI: 10.1161/01.HYP.6.3.301.
11. Jullian LJ. Measures of Anxiety. Arthritis care & research. 2011; 63(S11): S467-S472.DOI: 10.1002/acr.20561.
12. Pai SR, Mary A, Kini RD, Bhagyalakshmi K. Effects of cold pressor test on blood pressure and heart rate variability in the wards of hypertensive parents. IJPCBS. 2013; 3(3): 839-842.
13. Kelsey RM, Patterson SM, Barnard M, Alpert BS. Consistency of hemodynamic response to cold stress in adolescents. Hypertension. 2000;36:1013
14. Reiser MF, Ferris EB Jr. The nature of the cold pressor test and its significance in relation to neurogenic and humoral mechanisms in hyper-tension. J Clin Invest. 1948; 27(1): 156–163. DOI: 10.1172/JCI1019
15. Pasini FL, Capecchi PL, Colafti M, Randisi P, Puccetti L, DI Perri T. Systemic adenosine increase during cold pressor test is dependent on sympathetic activation. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol.1999; 26(10): 774-778.
16. Tripathi, RR, Rastogi A, Manual for Self-evaluation scale of A-state, A-trait and A- free-floating. 1986; 7-10.
How to Cite
Banoo H, Gangwar V, Nabi N. Effect of Cold Stress and the Cold Pressor Test on Blood Pressure and Heart Rate. Int Arch BioMed Clin Res [Internet]. 2016Jun.18 [cited 2023Sep.25];2(2):65-8. Available from: https://iabcr.org/index.php/iabcr/article/view/213