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Role of cold and emotional stress in Raynaud's disease and scleroderma.

Posted Nov 18 2009 10:03pm
By R. R. Freedman and P. Ianni

Research on the aetiology of Raynaud's disease and phenomenon has been hindered by the difficulty of provoking attacks in the laboratory. A study was therefore conducted in which digital and ambient temperatures, electrocardiograms, and stress ratings were obtained during ambulatory monitoring in patients with idiopathic Raynaud's disease, Raynaud's phenomenon secondary to scleroderma, and in normal subjects.

In Raynaud's disease about one third of the vasospastic attacks were associated with tachycardia and increased stress ratings without declines in ambient temperature. In contrast, cold alone was enough to provoke most attacks of Raynaud's phenomenon in scleroderma. Chronically increased stress ratings in patients with scleroderma and increased muscle tension in anticipation of a cold stimulus suggest that these patients have different patterns of stress responses from those with Raynaud's disease.
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