Anger and Heart Disease

A new medical study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association strongly suggests that our personality type and how well we are able to control our anger may well have implications for our risk of stroke and other heart related ailments.This new research was carried out by researchers with the NIA (National Institute on Aging). Their research discovered that angry and aggressive individuals had carotid arteries that were thicker than these same arteries in people who were not as aggressive and were more easygoing. The thickness of the carotid arteries is an important indicator of elevated risk of stroke or heart attack. In other words, there seems to be a direct link between anger and heart disease.

Likewise, the folks that were considered to have the most antagonistic and least agreeable personalities were 40 percent more likely to experience thickening of arterial walls than their more pleasant and easy going peers. This very large risk factor indicates that doctors may need start considering their patient’s personality type when it comes to cardiovascular ailments. The AHA says that Americans suffer more than one million heart attacks and about 800,000 strokes annually. In total, heart diseases of all types are responsible for about a third of all deaths annually.

In a recent WebMD article author Katrina Woznicki quotes the NIA researcher report: “when the Type A behavioral pattern was dissected into its constituent parts, hostility emerged as the dominant predictor of coronary artery disease.” These findings make it clear that there is a link between anger and heart disease and we all should work on maintaining an equitable outlook on life

For the study itself, the town of Sardinia in Italy was chosen. The study included 5,600 residents, 3,250 women and 2,350 men. The average age of all participants was about 42 years. The study used ultrasound images to precisely measure both the artery and the artery wall thickness at five different points. The study also screened for additional heart disease risks such as smoking, blood pressure, triglyceride levels and diabetes

The results of this study revealed that even the youngest participants with combative personalities had thicker arterial walls than would be indicated by the other risk factors alone. The men in the study had thicker arterial walls than did the women in the study. But, the women who had the most antagonism related personality traits displayed wall thickening very close to men. It would seem that the link between anger and heart disease does not play favorites between men and women.

In the end, the findings of this study reinforce the linkage between anger and heart disease and that many people need to learn to relax more and find effective ways of controlling their anger and stress.