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High Hostility Strong Risk Factor for Heart Disease

Hostility may predict heart disease more often than traditional coronary heart disease (CHD) risk factors like high cholesterol, cigarette smoking and weight, according to new research.

For the study, which was reported in the November issue of Health Psychology, lead researcher Raymond Niaura, Ph.D., and colleagues concentrated on a sample of 774 older White men from the Normative Aging Study. Hostility levels, blood lipids, fasting insulin, blood pressure, body measurement index (BMI), weight-hip ratio (WHR), diet, alcohol intake, smoking and education attainment were assessed over a three year period.

Incidences of CHD were more common in those with higher levels of hostility then those with other risk factors. According to the authors, hostility is associated with and predicts incidents of coronary heart disease above and beyond the influence of known risk factors.

Specifically, HDL-cholesterol levels did significantly protect against CHD but hostility levels predicted incidences of CHD independent of the protective effect of HDL. "Furthermore, older men with the highest levels of hostility were at the greatest risk for developing CHD, independent of the effects of fasting insulin, BMI, WHR, triglcyride levels and blood pressure," said the authors.

It could be that high hostility levels predisposes an individual to CHD through other mechanisms not measured in this study, like cardiac arrhythmia, imbalances in the nervous system or cardiovascular and endocrine-neuroendocrine responses to stress.; Source: American Psychological Association (APA)


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