Stress affects hearts of men and women differently
New research has found that men and women may respond in different ways physiologically to stress, particularly when it comes to how it affects their hearts.
Scientists at Duke University Medical Center recruited 310 participants, including 56 women and 254 men, who were being treated for heart disease. The participants were first asked to take three tests--a mental arithmetic test, a mirror tracing test and an anger recall test--which were meant to induce mental stress. Next, the participants took an exercise test on a treadmill. Throughout the tests, the researchers measured the volunteers' blood pressure and heart rate, took blood samples and monitored heart changes.
The researchers found numerous ways in which the women and men responded differently to stress. The women were more likely than men to experience blocked arteries and reduced blood flow, as well as early formation of blood clots. The stressed women also experienced more negative emotions and fewer positive emotions than did the men. The men, on the other hand, had more changes in blood pressure and heart rate when under stress, when compared to the women.
The results of the study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, suggests that the differing responses to stress by men and women should be taken into account by medical professionals when treating patients for heart complications and cardiovascular disease, researchers said.