A new study has revealed that men and women have different cardiovascular and psychological reactions to mental stress.
In the study, 56 women and 254 men diagnosed with heart disease 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.
It was 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.
Women also experienced increased platelet aggregation, which is the start of the formation of blood clots, more than men. The women compared with men also expressed a greater increase in negative emotions and a greater decrease in positive emotions during the mental stress tests.
The study lead author Zainab Samad, M.D., M.H.S., assistant professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, said that the relationship between mental stress and cardiovascular disease is well known and this study revealed that mental stress affects the cardiovascular health of men and women differently.
The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.