A New Way Hotheads May Be Hurting Their Hearts
Abrams notes that this is a very small study that looked at patients with homocysteine levels in the normal ranges. He says, "We don't consider homocysteine elevated until it is in the range of 10 or 11 to 15. These levels are all well below that." In Stoney's study, the average homocysteine level for women was just under six and for men, who have higher homocysteine levels than women, it was about seven.
Stoney says it is too early to suggest any practical purpose of the findings. Abrams says that it is likely that homocysteine is a risk factor for heart disease, but "we have no data that show that lowering homocysteine or modifying it will do anything."
Stoney agrees that no one knows whether lowering homocysteine may impact the risk of heart disease. Homocysteine is normally broken down in the body by B vitamins and the nutrient folic acid. But she says that most people could probably benefit by finding more flexible ways to express anger and by attempting to overcome hostility, perhaps through counseling.
Abrams says that theories that anger or personality type may contribute to heart disease have fallen into disfavor. "If you go to the heart meetings in recent years, you see that this is considered somewhat soft science and doesn't get much attention," Abrams says. "Although I believe that personality probably does play a role, it is just awfully hard to flesh out this theory."
- A new study shows that hostility and anger may cause a rise in levels of homocysteine in the blood, a substance that may increase the chance of having a heart attack.
- Men who suppress their anger, instead of expressing it, have higher levels of homocysteine, but this did not hold true for women who inhibit their anger.
- Scientists still have many questions about homocysteine, and do not yet know if lowering levels of the substance will consequently lower the risk of heart attack.