Dr. Kathryn Boling of Lutherville Personal Physicians Discusses Issue of Stress and its Impact on Women's Heart Health

February 23, 2015


Doctors are learning more about how heart disease in women differs from the same problem in men. One major difference concerns the effect of emotional stress on the heart.

A new study led by Dr. Viola Vaccarino of Emory University in Atlanta shows that women ages 55 and younger who were under mental stress showed a reduction in blood flow to the heart that was three times that of men the same age.

"When you have emotional stress, you release cortisone into your blood stream. When you release cortisone into your blood stream, it does things like raise your blood pressure. It's fight or flight, which is great if a tiger is stalking you in the woods, but it's not so great if it's on a daily level that you're having this problem," said Dr. Kathryn Boling, Family Medicine specialist and physician with Mercy's Lutherville Personal Physicians group.

According to Dr. Boling, the study showed no gender difference in blood flow to the heart during physical stress tests and no gender difference in patients age 65 and older.

The study illustrates the importance of considering patients' gender and age when studying and treating heart disease.

To view Dr. Boling's interview regarding stress and its impact on women's heart health, click here.

About Mercy

Founded in 1874 in Downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed, acute care, university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a high-performing Maryland hospital (U.S. News & World Report); has achieved an overall 5-Star quality, safety, and patient experience rating (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services); is A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade); and is certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet™ hospital. Mercy Health Services is a not-for-profit health system and the parent company of Mercy Medical Center and Mercy Personal Physicians.

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