Outwardly expressed anger affects some women's heart arteries, says a new women-only study

January 12, 2007

LOS ANGELES (Jan. 12, 2007) - While previous studies have shown that anger and hostility, in and of themselves, can increase risk of heart disease in men, little of the research has included women.

Results of a new study, conducted exclusively with female subjects, suggest that anger and hostility alone are not predictive for coronary artery disease in women, but women who outwardly express anger may be at increased risk if they also have any of several other risk factors: age (risk increases as women get older), history of diabetes and history of unhealthy levels of fats (lipids) in the blood.

Cardiologist C. Noel Bairey Merz, M.D., medical director of the Preventive and Rehabilitative Cardiac Center and medical director of Women's Health at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said the overt expression of anger toward other persons or objects appears to be the most "toxic" aspect of hostility in women. In fact, the researchers analyzed a variety of measures related to anger, including cynicism, hostile temperament, aggression and suppressed anger. Only expressed anger - described as Anger Out on the rating scale - had predictive value, and only when the age, diabetes or dyslipidemia risk factors also were present.

"Our results appear to differ from the literature on males, particularly young males, in which hostility scores are found to be associated with coronary artery disease. However, the new data, combined with our previous findings, indicate that anger and hostility in women, as in men, do tend to cluster with adverse risk factors," said Bairey Merz, one of the authors of an article in December, 2006, issue of the Journal of Women's Health.

The anger and hostility research grew out of the Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) Study, a multi-center, long-term investigation sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Bairey Merz chairs the WISE study and holds the Women's Guild Chair in Women's Health at Cedars-Sinai.

WISE was designed to study diagnostic testing and pathophysiology of ischemic heart disease in women and how sex hormones and other gender-specific findings influence the clinical aspects of the disease. From 1996 to 2000, 936 women referred for angiograms because of chest pain and suspected ischemia were enrolled. The hostility study included 636 women with suspected coronary artery disease who were referred for diagnostic coronary angiography.

The research team published an article last year showing that hostility and anger are related to coronary artery disease and are predictive of heart-related "events" in women. This study concluded that the outward expression of anger and hostility is higher in, and may be a risk factor for, women with suspected coronary artery disease, based on results of angiograms. But it also found that anger and hostility are associated with atypical cardiac symptoms in women who do not have angiographic evidence of heart disease. The researchers hypothesize that women who have symptoms but no definitive diagnosis or potential treatment may manifest their frustration in increased aggression and anger.

"By beginning to understand the psychosocial factors that play a role in the development of heart disease in women, we hope to develop more effective diagnostic tools. This study also points out the importance of addressing the concerns of women who must cope with atypical, unexplained symptoms and the psychological effects accompanying them," said Bairey Merz, who is available to provide additional information about the study.
-end-
The study and article were completed by researchers at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md.; University of Pittsburgh; Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; University of California, Los Angeles; National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health; Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh; Atlanta Cardiovascular Research Institute, Atlanta; and the University of Florida, Gainesville.

Financial support was provided by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, the Gustavus and Louis Pfeiffer Research Foundation of Danville, NJ, The Women's Guild of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, The Ladies Hospital Aid Society of Western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, and QMED, Inc., Laurence Harbor, NJ.

Citation: Journal of Women's Health, Published Online Dec. 2006, "Anger, Hostility, and Cardiac Symptoms in Women with Suspected Coronary Artery Disease: The Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) Study"

One of only seven hospitals in California whose nurses have been honored with the prestigious Magnet designation, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is one of the largest nonprofit academic medical centers in the Western United States. For 19 consecutive years, it has been named Los Angeles' most preferred hospital for all health needs in an independent survey of area residents. Cedars-Sinai is internationally renowned for its diagnostic and treatment capabilities and its broad spectrum of programs and services, as well as breakthroughs in biomedical research and superlative medical education. It ranks among the top 10 non-university hospitals in the nation for its research activities and is fully accredited by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs, Inc. (AAHRPP). Additional information is available at www.cedars-sinai.edu.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Related Heart Disease Articles from Brightsurf:

Cellular pathway of genetic heart disease similar to neurodegenerative disease
Research on a genetic heart disease has uncovered a new and unexpected mechanism for heart failure.

Mechanism linking gum disease to heart disease, other inflammatory conditions discovered
The link between periodontal (gum) disease and other inflammatory conditions such as heart disease and diabetes has long been established, but the mechanism behind that association has, until now, remained a mystery.

New 'atlas' of human heart cells first step toward precision treatments for heart disease
Scientists have for the first time documented all of the different cell types and genes expressed in the healthy human heart, in research published in the journal Nature.

With a heavy heart: How men and women develop heart disease differently
A new study by researchers from McGill University has uncovered that minerals causing aortic heart valve blockage in men and women are different, a discovery that could change how heart disease is diagnosed and treated.

Heart-healthy diets are naturally low in dietary cholesterol and can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
Eating a heart-healthy dietary pattern rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, vegetable oils and nuts, which is also limits salt, red and processed meats, refined-carbohydrates and added sugars, is relatively low in dietary cholesterol and supports healthy levels of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol.

Pacemakers can improve heart function in patients with chemotherapy-induced heart disease
Research has shown that treating chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy with commercially available cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) delivered through a surgically implanted defibrillator or pacemaker can significantly improve patient outcomes.

Arsenic in drinking water may change heart structure raising risk of heart disease
Drinking water that is contaminated with arsenic may lead to thickening of the heart's main pumping chamber in young adults, according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

New health calculator can help predict heart disease risk, estimate heart age
A new online health calculator can help people determine their risk of heart disease, as well as their heart age, accounting for sociodemographic factors such as ethnicity, sense of belonging and education, as well as health status and lifestyle behaviors.

Wide variation in rate of death between VA hospitals for patients with heart disease, heart failure
Death rates for veterans with ischemic heart disease and chronic heart failure varied widely across the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system from 2010 to 2014, which could suggest differences in the quality of cardiovascular health care provided by VA medical centers.

Heart failure: The Alzheimer's disease of the heart?
Similar to how protein clumps build up in the brain in people with some neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, protein clumps appear to accumulate in the diseased hearts of mice and people with heart failure, according to a team led by Johns Hopkins University researchers.

Read More: Heart Disease News and Heart Disease Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.