Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 137-156

First online:

Gender differences in cardiovascular reactivity

  • Stephanie V. StoneAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Maryland Baltimore County
  • , Theodore M. DembroskiAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Maryland Baltimore County
  • , Paul T. CostaJr.Affiliated withGerontology Research Center, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health
  • , James M. MacDougallAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Eckerd College

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Pronounced cardiovascular reactivity to stress is a behavioral mechanism that may underlie the pathophysiology of coronary heart disease (CHD). Based on the greater incidence of CHD among males than among females, the purpose of the current investigation was to test the hypothesis that in young adults (ages 17–29), males (n=47) show more cardiovascular reactivity than females (n=61) to two stressors, a video game and cigarette smoking. Five of the six comparisons did not support the hypothesis: females were higher on heart rate and diastolic blood pressure reactivity to both Stressors; males were higher on systolic blood pressure reactivity to the video game only. The results suggest that females may be particularly physiologically reactive to cigarette smoking.

Key words

coronary heart disease gender reactivity