The purpose of this research was to examine the role of gender in hemodynamic response patterns to stress.Sixty-four male and 55 female young adults were administered a protocol of rest, mental arithmetic, video game, and anger recall interview while blood pressure, heart rate, and cardiac impedance measures were obtained. Men had higher levels of systolic blood pressure and cardiac output and greater reactivity to tasks, indexed by increases in cardiac output and diastolic blood pressure. Extreme groups of myocardial and vascular reactors were formed from cardiac output and total peripheral resistance change scores during mental arithmetic. The myocardial reactors exhibited greater sensitivity to task demands, whereas vascular reactors exhibited comparable total peripheral resistance increases to all tasks. Vascular reactors exhibited greater diastolic blood pressure reactivity than myocardial reactors. Future studies should address the predictive validity of these reactor patterns for the subsequent development of coronary heart disease.
From the Department of Psychology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN.
Address reprint requests to: Dr. Kathleen A. Lawler, Department of Psychology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996-0900.
Received for publication February 1, 1994; revision received August 11, 1994.