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Margaret Thatcher: Why Powerful Women Face More Stress

(Image credit: Credit: The White House)

The original "Iron Lady," former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has died. And while Thatcher's death of a stroke at 87 is far from unusual, powerful women often face a particular burden of stress.

For instance, job stress raises women's risk for heart attack and stroke, even when they have a lot of control in their positions. Studies had shown that having more control in a job can mitigate people's health risks in high-stress positions.

Being in greater control of one's job suggests a certain level of authority, such as management or executive positions. But it could be that the corner office puts women at increased pressure to perform, because so few women reach such positions in the first place, Dr. Michelle Albert, a researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital told MyHealthNewsDailyin a 2012 interview.

And stress may be especially hard on a woman's heart. During periods of stress, blood flow to a man's heart increases, but does not change in women, a study by Penn State researchers showed. That suggests women could be more susceptible to heart problems caused by stress, they said.

And while women and men alike report work-life conflicts, the way the genders experience job stress is different. Women are more likely to be stressed when work gets in the way of family life, while the reverse is true for men, a study from Canada last year suggested.

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Tia Ghose
Tia has interned at Science News, Wired.com, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and has written for the Center for Investigative Reporting, Scientific American, and ScienceNow. She has a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California Santa Cruz.