: Are women more affected by emotional stress than men?
Marianne Legato, MD: It is a fact that stress has a more negative effect in some ways on women than in men. For example, if a woman who has had a heart attack goes back to an unhappy situation at home,either with a husband or a child, or a sibling, or whatever, she is 300% more likely to have the second heart attack within the year.So women depend on a positively, a positive and useful social network for their recovery. People who quarrel or have an unhappy relationship, women have a depression in their immune systemand we find that indeed for both sexes, wounds heal more slowly and people are more prone to infection during times of stress.So stress exacts a toll on the immune system as well as the cardiovascular system.
: What type of stress?
Marianne Legato, MD: The kind of stress that makes people ill and depresses their immune system and makes the likelihood of high blood pressure and coronary artery disease ever more likelyis the kind of situation that creates emotional pain that doesn't seem to be resolvable.And I have many patients who come in and talk to me about marriages that have been really acutely painful for 10 years. And they have no strategy for resolution of the reasons for the pain,or alternatively, of exit from that relationship. And fear, anxiety, and indecision about those kinds of issues are something that women should work on for their health specifically, women.