Anxiety may influence a woman’s heart during exercise

Extract from Kathryn Doyle‘s article for Reuters (February 23, 2016)

In women, blood flow to the heart during exercise testing may be influenced by anxiety, while the same does not appear to be true for men, according to results reported in the annual women’s themed issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Overall, reduced blood flow – called ischemia – was more common in men than in women, and anxiety disorders weren’t generally linked to higher or lower risk of ischemia, said senior author Kim Lavoie of the University of Quebec at Montreal.

However, women without previously diagnosed heart disease who had anxiety disorders, including things like panic disorder and generalized anxiety, had higher rates of ischemia compared to those without anxiety disorders, she told Reuters Health by email.

The researchers studied the risk of myocardial ischemia, when blood flow to the heart is reduced, usually due to a partial or complete blockage of the heart’s arteries. Ischemia may cause chest pressure or pain, shortness of breath, neck or jaw pain, or may have no symptoms.

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