Emotion tugs at heartstrings of women more than men: study

Emotional stress it more likely to trigger heart problems in women than men.
Photo / Thinkstock
Emotional stress it more likely to trigger heart problems in women than men. Photo / Thinkstock

Women are more likely to feel pain in their heart when they're emotional than men, a new study suggests.

Researchers say that when emotional stress increases, blood flow to the heart rises in men, but remains the same in women. This puts them at greater risk of coronary pain and could offer an explanation for 'broken heart syndrome' - a temporary weakening of the heart muscle during emotional strain, like losing a partner. It's almost exclusively felt by women.

"Stress reduction is important for anyone, regardless of gender," study author, Prof Chester Ray, from the Penn State College of Medicine, said in a statement to Medical Daily.

"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."

Researchers measured the blood pressure and heart rates of 17 healthy men and women. They then asked them a series of maths problems - calling on them to subtract seven from a random selection of numbers. To up the stress levels, they hurried their answers along and told them correct answers were wrong.

At rest, male and females had little difference in blood pressure, blood flow and heart rate. During the test, heart rate and blood pressure rose in all participants, Medical Daily reports.

However, when under stress, blood flow rose in male participants, but remained the same for the women, putting them at greater risk of heart problems.

The findings were presented this week at the Experimental Biology meeting in the US.


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