BRADENTON, Fla. — Just in time for Mother’s Day, new research shows coping with mental pressures and anxiety may be more taxing on the heart health of women.

The study, presented at a recent annual Experimental Biology meeting, showed men and women given the same stressful math problem all had an increase in blood pressure and heart rate while solving it. Normally, when heart rate and blood pressure rise, blood flow to the heart muscle increases so it can compensate. However, findings showed while the men’s heart increased blood flow, the women’s heart did not.

With many mothers overextending themselves, cardiologists say stress management is a key factor in maintaining a healthy heart.

“Stress reduction is important for everyone. This study suggests women especially need to monitor their stress to avoid heart problems,” says Jeffrey Rothfeld M.D., F.A.C.C., a cardiologist at Bradenton Cardiology Center.

Studies of heart attack patients found that 15 to 30 percent of those admitted to a medical center had suffered from severe emotional stress.

Being able to identify stressors in life and releasing the tension they cause is critical in learning to cope with everyday pressure, as well as significant traumatic life events. Below are some common triggers that can affect mothers at all stages of life.

  • Illness, either personal or of a family member or friend
  • Death of a friend or loved one
  • Problems in a personal relationship
  • Work overload
  • Unemployment
  • Pregnancy
  • Financial concerns

After identifying the cause of stress, the next step is to learn coping techniques. Some common techniques for coping with stress include:

  • Eat and drink sensibly– Abusing alcohol and food may seem to reduce stress, but it actually adds to it.
  • Stop smoking – Aside from the obvious health risks of cigarettes, nicotine acts as a stimulant and brings on more stress symptoms.
  • Exercise regularly – Choose non-competitive activities and set reasonable goals. Aerobic exercise has been shown to release endorphins (natural substances that help you feel better and maintain a positive attitude).
  • Relax every day – Choose from a variety of different techniques, such as meditation, to unwind.
  • Get enough rest – Even with proper diet and exercise, you can’t fight stress effectively without rest. You need time to recover so the time you spend asleep should be long enough to relax your mind as well as your body.

Bradenton Cardiology Center is a full service heart center. For more information, visit