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Mental Stress Induces Greater Vasoconstriction in Men

May affect risk of adverse cardiac events in coronary artery disease patients

FRIDAY, Oct. 17 (HealthDay News) -- When under mental stress, men with coronary artery disease experience greater peripheral arterial vasoconstriction than women with coronary artery disease, which may affect their risk of adverse cardiac events, according to study findings published in the Oct. 15 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.

Mustafa Hassan, M.D., and colleagues from the University of Florida in Gainesville examined gender-related differences in the peripheral arterial response to mental stress (induced by a public speaking task) in 211 patients with coronary artery disease (37 percent women, mean age 64 years).

The researchers found that the peripheral arterial response, as assessed by the mean peripheral arterial tonometric ratio (the ratio of pulse wave amplitude in the finger during stress to that at rest), was significantly higher in women (0.80 in women versus 0.59 in men). This remained true even after controlling for confounding factors. Hemodynamic measures such as blood pressure and heart rate during mental stress did not differ significantly between men and women. Most patients (85 percent) had a vasoconstrictive response to mental stress, they note.

"In conclusion, peripheral vasoconstrictive response to mental stress was more pronounced in men compared with women," Hassan and colleagues write. "This finding may suggest that men have higher susceptibility to mental stress-related adverse effects."

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