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Durham University

Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Publication details for Dr Tessa M. Pollard

Pollard, T.M., Pearce, K.L., Rousham, E.K. & Schwartz, J.E. (2007). Do blood pressure and heart rate responses to perceived stress vary according to endogenous estrogen level in women? American Journal of Physical Anthropology 132(1): 151-157.

Author(s) from Durham


The results of experimental studies suggest that estrogen may blunt blood pressure responses to stress but increase heart rate responses. We investigated whether within-person associations of perceived stress with blood pressure and heart rate during normal working life in 26 premenopausal and 7 postmenopausal women varied according to endogenous estrogen level. Each woman measured her own blood pressure and heart rate and completed a diary reporting perceived stress levels on 6 occasions on each of two working days. Premenopausal women were assessed once between days 4 and 6 of their menstrual cycle (low estrogen) and again between days 11 and 13 (high estrogen) and urine samples were taken to verify expected variation in estrogen level. Results showed that perceived stress was significantly positively associated with systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP) and heart rate (HR) in the group as a whole. This association did not differ according to menopausal status. There was no difference in the association of perceived stress and SBP or DBP in premenopausal women according to day of assessment, but heart rate reactivity to perceived stress was significantly higher on the high estrogen day.