According to new research, emotional stress is more likely to damage the hearts of females. This is especially the case for young women with heart disease. The blood flow towards the heart is more likely to be reduced, making the issue worse.
This is not the case with physical stress, according to Viola Vaccarino, the study author. The Emory University faculty member said that younger women are place in a higher risk group due to being more vulnerable to the emotional issues. They face stressors on a daily basis, including marriage, kids and jobs. Middle-aged women will also fall into that category, especially those who care for aging parents.
There is also an element of biology to the issue. Emotional stress can lead to blood vessels functioning abnormally. This can lead to the peripheral and coronary blood vessels being constricted.
The study involved 534 patients, all with stable coronary heart disease. Researchers used standardized physical and mental stress tests to see how the patients reacted, and tested the change that it meant to the body. For the mental stages, individuals were asked to imaging a situation that would be stressful for them. They then needed to speak about it in front of people.
It was found that emotional stress damaged the female hearts more than their male counterparts. This was tested through nuclear imaging, where pictures were taken of the heart during the various tests. Blood pressure and heart rate were also taken at all stages of the research to see if they were affected at all.
All results were analyzed, taking age and gender into account. Females who were under 55 had three times more of a reduction to the blood flow towards the heart compared to men in the same age bracket. However, men were more likely to develop heart disease earlier than women.
When it came to physical stress, the results were comparable between men and women. Both suffered the same blood flow change.
Women between the ages of 56 and 64 were also more likely to suffer problems compared to men in that age group. Their blood flow reduction doubled. Those over 65 saw no change.
Younger women with heart disease need to be careful. They are more at risk of early death due to it compared to men within the same age group. There are a number of reasons for this, including high blood pressure and diabetes. Vaccarino stated that health care providers need to be aware of the issues for younger women with early heart disease. It is important to consider psychological and mental problems, rather than the physical day-to-day activities that these patients go through.
Women who are depressed should be advised to seek treatment and support as soon as possible. Health care providers should also recommend programs to help reduce the mental stress felt. It will also be helpful for other reasons for patients to manage these levels. It is especially important now that it has been found that younger female hearts suffer more damage due to emotional stress.
By Alexandria Ingham