Middle-aged women more stressed but have lower blood pressure

June 6th, 2009 - 12:44 pm ICT by IANS  

London, June 6 (IANS) Middle-aged women are more stressed today but have lower blood pressure levels, a long-term study carried out in Sweden has revealed.
The study, part of the Prospective Population Study of Women in Sweden, was initiated at the end of the 1960s, when 1,462 middle-aged women were examined and interviewed about their lifestyle and health.

These women have subsequently been followed up for 40 years into the 21st century as well as compared with new generations of middle-aged women who have been examined at later dates.

“The level of stress among middle-aged women was stable over a long period but we can see that the number of women who perceive stress rises significantly after the early years of the 1980s,” says general practitioner Dominique Hange, who authored the thesis.

“It is the women themselves who describe that they feel stressed and other research has shown that it is the perceived stress that is most harmful,” added Hange.

In 1968-1969, 28 percent of women stated suffering suffered from nervousness and 36 percent said they experienced stress. By 2004-2005, the percentage of women who experienced stress had more than doubled to 75 percent.

“The women who stated at the end of the 1960s that they suffered from nervousness or perceived stress had a higher frequency of abdominal problems, asthma, headache and frequent infections.

“This is true both at the time they were examined and nearly 25 years later. We could also in a longer perspective see that the women who were mentally stressed had a higher mortality, and a somewhat higher incidence of breast cancer,” said Hange.

The risk factors for cardiovascular disease among women have also decreased during the past 30 years, according to the thesis presented at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

The average body mass index of the women was the same in 2000 as it was in the 1960s, while mean blood pressure and levels of serum lipids were lower, said a Sahlgrenska release.

“More women today exercise in their leisure time and we know that physically active people often have a lower blood pressure. Only 15 percent women exercised regularly in the 1960s, while the figure today is around 40 percent,” said Hange.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Health |