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Heart Disease Health Center

Angry Young Adults Show Early Signs of Heart Disease

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Many doctors already recognize that assessing someone's cardiovascular risk requires looking at psychosocial risk factors, as well as health behaviors and familial background, Knox says. This study, as well as many others, suggests that treatment of psychosocial factors also is important, and needs to take place earlier, she says.

"My own research has shown that people who are chronically irritable are as prone to cardiovascular disease as those who are always angry and ready to explode," says Aron Seigmen, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County.

"It's hard to define what different researchers mean by hostility, but in my research, I've seen that the outward expression of anger seems to be the most toxic," Seigmen says. "People who respond in this way need to relearn their responses and to change their view of situations to defuse the toxic effect of their emotions on their cardiovascular health."

Willem Kop, PhD, research assistant professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., also reviewed the study for WebMD.

"Unfortunately, hostility is a trait that's very resistant to change," Kop says. "It's necessary to alter the person's coping strategy, not attempt to change the trait itself. We've had success with behavioral medicine interventions, in addition to relaxation training."

Vital Information:

  • According to a new study, people who are hostile are more likely to show signs of early heart disease.
  • The higher the level of hostility a person exhibits, the greater prevalence of calcium in the arteries, a condition that contributes to the hardening of the arteries.
  • People who are hostile can relearn how to respond to situations and diffuse the negative effects of these emotions on their health.
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