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Family Stress Linked to Angina Pain

Study Shows Demanding Relationship With a Partner May Have an Impact on Heart Health

Second Opinion

Psychologist William R. Lovallo, PhD, who wrote the 2004 book Stress and Health: Biological and Psychological Interactions, says the study provides more evidence linking social relationships with health.

But he adds that it is not clear if the quality of these relationships has a direct impact on conditions like angina.

Lovallo is with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Oklahoma City and the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center.

“It is tempting to assume that bad social relationships cause medical symptoms, but we have to be careful about making this association,” he tells WebMD.

Lovallo cites earlier research by the same investigators suggesting a link between hostility and poor health.

“It would come as no surprise that people who are hostile by nature would have more difficulties in social relationships,” he says. “So it may not be the social relationships that lead to symptoms like angina.”

But cardiologist Nieca Goldberg, MD, says stress clearly has a negative impact on the heart. She says it is increasingly clear that interventions to relieve stress, such as meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy, can benefit the heart.

“The biggest challenge for me is getting patients to accept that they need to take steps to lower stress,” says Goldberg, who is a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association. “I live and work in New York City where most people view stress as a fact of life. But worry and stress are not good for the heart, no matter where you live.”

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