Twelve executives with typical angina pectoris, given a 12-minute quiz, designed to be psychologically stressful, responded with ST depressions of greater than or equal to 1.0 mm. Each of these patients was given an exercise tolerance test on an upright bicycle to induce an amount of ST depression equivalent to that observed during the quiz. A statistical analysis was made of the products of the heart rate and the systolic blood pressure (rate-pressure product), at the onset of equivalent ST depression on both tests. At the maximal ST depression during the quiz, the mean rate-pressure product was 181 +/- 64 (SD) X 10(2), and at an equivalent ST depression during exercise it was 225 +/- 54 X 10(2); the mean difference was 44 +/- 40 X 10(2). Inasmuch as the rate-pressure product is an index of myocardial oxygen consumption, the differences in rate-pressure product suggest that myocardial ischaemia occurred at a lower myocardial oxygen consumption during emotional stress than during exercise. If equivalent degrees of ST depression during exercise and the quiz are indicative of equivalent ischaemia, than a relative reduction in coronary blood flow during emotional stress, probably by coronary spasm, may be postulated as the most reasonable explanation for these observations.
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