Gender differences in blood pressure control during a variety of behavioral stressors.
This study assessed gender differences in hemodynamic response patterns to behavioral stressors. In addition, the extent to which gender differences in cardiovascular reactivity were a function of the type of challenge was determined by employing tasks relying on stereotypically male areas of competence and a task relying on stereotypically female areas of competence. Sixteen female and 15 male graduate, medical or dental students were exposed to two speech tasks and two math tasks. While there were no significant differences in blood pressure reactivity between the genders, females exhibited significantly greater cardiac output increases across all tasks than males, while males tended to respond with greater increases in total peripheral resistance compared with females. Furthermore, during two of the tasks, significantly more females were classified as myocardial hyperreactors (based on increases in cardiac output), while significantly more males were vascular hyperreactors (based on increases in total peripheral resistance). A post hoc analysis also indicated an apparent association between oral contraceptive use and higher cardiovascular reactivity among the females tested. This association may have been a consequence of the decision to test all women during days 10 to 14 of the menstrual cycle when reactivity in women not using oral contraceptives may be suppressed.
Girdler, SS; Turner, JR; Sherwood, A; Light, KC
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