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Teen Girls Have Edge on Blood Pressure

Study shows a healthier cardiovascular stress response

MONDAY, July 18, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- For reasons that remain unclear, teenage girls seem to have natural, added cardiovascular protection again stress compared to boys, researchers report.

"Very few studies have reported a teenager's response to prolonged mental stress," study lead author and research cardiologist Dr. Gaston Kapuku of the Medical College of Georgia, said in a prepared statement. "Our findings indicate that females are protected against the effects of stress as demonstrated by their ability to maintain lower blood pressure."

The study included 190 black and white American teens (between 16 to 18 years old) who had their blood pressure levels and heart rates checked before and after they took part in stress-producing activity -- one hour of playing a competitive video game.

The girls displayed less of an increase in systolic blood pressure (the first number in a blood pressure reading) than the boys after they played the video game. White girls had lower blood pressure change rates than black girls. However, the girls had slightly higher heart rates than the boys after playing the video game.

Understanding the mechanisms that help teenage girls prevent excessive increases in blood pressure may help researchers develop ways to prevent stress-related cardiovascular damage generally.

The study was presented at a meeting of the International Society on Hypertension in Blacks held in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about stress and disease.

SOURCE: International Society on Hypertension in Blacks, news release, July 17, 2005
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