Mental stress is a daily stimulus that can acutely activate the sympathetic nervous system. Whether sympathetic stimulation can augment central artery stiffness (CAS) has not yet been well documented. Moreover, sex differences in sympathetic neurovascular transduction have been reported. We assessed whether mental stress augments CAS in both sexes and whether any CAS increase is blunted in women compared with men. The hf-PWV (heart-femoral pulse wave velocity; index of CAS), MAP (mean arterial pressure), PP (pulse pressure), TPR (total peripheral resistance), and HR (heart rate) were measured in 26 young individuals (13 men, 13 women) at rest and throughout a 10-minute bout of stress induced by mental arithmetic. Data over the mental stress period were compared to the preceding baseline values and between sexes. Mental stress increased hf-PWV, MAP, PP, and HR from baseline throughout the entire stimulation period (p < .005). TPR diminished in the first minute of stimulation (p < .001) in both sexes and increased in the last minutes in women only (p < .005). Hf-PWV was lower in women than men (p < .001) at rest and during mental stress, but the changes from baseline were similar in both sexes. There were sex differences in the PP and TPR changes, which were evident at different times of stimulation. Mental stress increased CAS in both sexes throughout the stimulation period. Although values of CAS were lower in women both at rest and during mental stress, the CAS increase due to mental stress was similar in both sexes.
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