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J Physiol Sci. 2014 May;64(3):213-9. doi: 10.1007/s12576-014-0306-y. Epub 2014 Feb 5.

Sex differences in blood pressure responses to mental stress are abolished after a single bout of exercise: underlying hemodynamic mechanisms.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Fluminense Federal University, Rua Prof. Hernani Pires de Melo 101/106, Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, 24210-130, Brazil,


We aimed to investigate whether the pressor responses to mental stress (MS) are exaggerated in men due to heightened cardiac responses, before and after a bout of exercise. Fifteen men and 19 women underwent a protocol consisting of blood pressure (BP), cardiac output (CO) and forearm vascular assessments at baseline and during MS, and these measurements were performed before and 60 min after a bout of exercise. Before exercise, BP response was significantly augmented in men (Δ16 ± 2 mmHg) compared to women (Δ11 ± 1 mmHg). This BP response was accompanied by greater increases in CO in men and similar vascular responses between sexes. After exercise, BP and CO responses to MS were attenuated in men and, consequently, no sex differences were observed. Vascular responses were not affected by exercise. The mechanism underlying the lack of sex differences in BP response to MS after exercise was found to be a marked attenuation in CO in men only.

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