This can cause the heart to forcibly pump out blood, which increases their risk of suffering a cardiovascular-related event or premature death.
Study author Dr Viola Vaccarino from Emory University, said: ‘This research is important because previous studies have shown that a reduction in blood supply to the heart (ischemia) during mental stress doubles the risk of heart attack or death from heart disease.
‘Women with heart disease need to know that they may be vulnerable to the effects of mental stress and think about ways to protect their hearts, such as relaxation techniques and physical exercise.’
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, being responsible for one in four fatalities every year. Women with heart disease experience reduced blood supply to the organ when stressed
MARRIAGE BOOSTS THE SURVIVAL OF THOSE WITH HEART DISEASE BY UP TO 52%
Married people with heart disease are up to 52 percent less likely to die from the condition, research revealed earlier this month.
They also have a 24 percent reduced risk of dying prematurely from any cause compared to those who are divorced, separated, widowed or have never wed, according to the first study of its kind.
Lead author Dr Arshed Quyyumi from Emory University, said: ‘I was somewhat surprised by the magnitude of the influence of being married has (on heart patients).
‘Social support provided by marriage, and perhaps many other benefits of companionship, are important for people with heart disease.’
The researchers believe the social-support networks that come with marriage, along with dodging the emotional and financial stress of divorce, may boost heart disease patients’ survival.
Previous studies have also found heart disease patients benefit from having husbands and wives who nag them to lead healthy lifestyles.
How the research was carried out
The researchers analyzed 678 adults with an average age of 63. All of the study’s participants had heart disease.
While the participants gave a speech, the researchers measured their blood pressures and heart rates, as well as taking imaging pictures of their hearts and measuring the constriction of arteries supplying blood in their fingers.
‘Women with heart disease may be vulnerable to mental stress’
Results reveal stressed women with heart disease experience reduced blood supply to their hearts due to the constriction of tiny blood vessels.
Dr Vaccarino said: ‘This research is important because previous studies have shown that a reduction in blood supply to the heart (ischemia) during mental stress doubles the risk of heart attack or death from heart disease.
‘Instead of dilating and increasing blood flow to the heart during stress, in women the tiny blood vessels are constricted, leading to areas of reduced blood flow.’
The results also found reduced blood supply to the heart in stressed men is typically due to an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, which raises the organ’s workload. People with heart disease should try to avoid stress, the researchers advise.
Dr Vaccarino added: ‘Women with heart disease need to know that they may be vulnerable to the effects of mental stress and think about ways to protect their hearts, such as relaxation techniques and physical exercise.’
The findings were published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.