Stress Harder on Women's Hearts
When tasked with doing math in their heads, both men and women showed signs of stress but only the men had a corresponding and beneficial increase in blood flow. Penn State researchers who performed the study ratcheted up the stress levels by urging participants to do their calculations more quickly or telling them their answers were wrong even though they were correct. At rest, both genders had similar scores on all heart measurements. The difference only showed up when the subjects were distressed. That finding led the scientists to suggest that women are more at risk than men are for cardiac problems when they are under mental and emotional strain, including bereavement.
The findings were due to be discussed at the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting at the San Diego Convention Centre. Lead author Chester Ray, PhD, in an American Physiological Society news release, wrote: "Stress reduction is important for anyone, regardless of gender, but this study shines a light on how stress differently affects the hearts of women, potentially putting them at greater risk of a coronary event."
According to HealthDay, because this study was presented at a medical meeting, "the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal."