Mental Stress Impact on Heart Varies Between Men,
Women had greater increase in negative emotions,
decrease in positive emotions
13, 2014 Researchers found that while men had more changes in blood
pressure and heart rate in response to the mental stress, more women
experienced myocardial ischemia, decreased blood flow to the heart. The
women also expressed a greater increase in negative emotions and a
greater decrease in positive emotions during the mental stress tests.
Women also experienced increased platelet aggregation, which is the
start of the formation of blood clots, more than men.
Men and women just have different cardiovascular
and psychological reactions to mental stress, according to the study
from the Duke Heart Center of men and women who were already being
treated for heart disease.
The study, published today in the Journal of the
American College of Cardiology, looked at 56 women and 254 men
diagnosed with heart disease enrolled in a larger REMIT study of the
impact of the medication escitalopram on heart disease induced by mental
After undergoing baseline testing, participants
carried out three mentally stressful tasks a mental arithmetic test, a
mirror tracing test, and an anger recall test followed by a treadmill
exercise test. During mental stress tasks and rest periods between
tests, researchers conducted echocardiography to study changes in the
heart, took blood samples, and measured blood pressure and heart rate.
"The relationship between mental stress and
cardiovascular disease is well known," said the study lead author Zainab
Samad, M.D., M.H.S., assistant professor of medicine at Duke University
Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina.
"This study revealed that mental stress affects the
cardiovascular health of men and women differently. We need to recognize
this difference when evaluating and treating patients for cardiovascular
"At this point, further studies are needed to test
the association of sex differences in the heart's responses to mental
stress and long term outcomes," Samad said.
"This study also underscores the inadequacy of
available risk prediction tools, which currently fail to measure an
entire facet of risk, i.e. the impact of negative physiological
responses to psychological stress in both sexes, and especially so among
The American College of Cardiology is a
47,000-member medical society that is the professional home for the
entire cardiovascular care team. The mission of the College is to
transform cardiovascular care and to improve heart health. For more
The Journal of the American College of Cardiology,
which publishes peer-reviewed research on all aspects of cardiovascular
disease, reports to be the most widely read cardiovascular journal in
the world. JACC is ranked No. 1 among cardiovascular journals for its
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