RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—The next time you feel the need to let fly with a string of expletives, consider that anger and aggression are contributing causes of heart disease, according to a new study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine. Lashing out, the authors found, causes your platelets to react with other things in your blood and build up plaque on your artery walls. Like eating a healthy diet, controlling anger may be a key to keeping your arteries healthy and your heart strong.
THE DETAILS: Researchers recruited 42 adults with no history of cardiovascular disease or stroke. The participants, most of whom were women, submitted blood samples and filled out a questionnaire about their lifestyles. Then they underwent hostility testing. The blood samples were analyzed for platelet reactivity, a phenomenon that leads to plaque formation in arteries and increases the severity of cardiovascular disease.
The analysis showed that an increase in platelet reactivity was associated with "aggressive responding," the tendency to use anger and aggression as primary responses to a problem. For each point increase in aggressive responding score, there was a 16 percent increase in the risk for a dangerous cardiovascular event.