December 05, 2013
Mental stress + heart disease: Stronger presence in women under 50
Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors Continuing Education ### How the study was conducted The mental stress test part of the study was a public speaking task involving an emotional topic. Participants were asked to imagine a real-life stressful situation, such as a close relative been mistreated in a nursing home. They had to quickly prepare a speech and deliver it in front of a video camera and an audience wearing white coats, while their blood pressure and other vital signs were monitored. Immediately afterwards, cardiac imaging was performed to assess blood flow within the heart via SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography). On a separate day, study participants performed a standard exercise test on a treadmill; a few were unable to exercise at a high heart rate and had to have a "pharmacological" stress test with a drug that dilates coronary arteries. The research was supported by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institute for Mental Health (R21HL093665, R21HL093665-01A1S1, R01 HL109413, K24HL077506, and K24 MH076955).