Emotional stress goes straight to the heart of women

26 Apr

Emotional stress has more impact on women than men, and can lead to an impact on heart health, according to research from the Penn State College of Medicine.

Stress hurts women's hearts. (istockphoto.com/jcsmily)

When women feel emotional stress – such as the pain of bereavement, or the breakdown of a marriage – blood flow to the heart remains the same, whereas it increases for men. This puts more stress on the heart, and can lead to heart pain.

The researchers said: “This puts women 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.”

However, it’s not exclusively women who suffer from stress, as findings from a separate survey show. The Evening Standard reports figures from Nuffield Health’s Canary Wharf medical centre that nearly half (44%) of Londoners don’t take their holiday entitlement. A third said they didn’t have time for a break, or feared losing their job.

Nearly half are working unpaid overtime, with 12% working an extra eight to 20 hours in the week. Half (51%) feel their tolerance levels have lowered since the economic downturn, and a third argue more with family members.

Stressed-out workers seek relaxation in alcohol (22%), and a third turn to exercise. Perhaps the figures on heart health will be a salutary reminder to female workers to leave their desks on time, and submit their holiday forms in full.

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