More Evidence Linking
Hostility To Heart Disease

NEW YORK(Reuters Health) -- Researchers have found more evidence that hostility can contribute to heart disease, according to a report in the current issue of the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.
Dr. Raymond Niaura of Brown University School of Medicine in Providence, Rhode Island, and colleagues found that hostility may be linked to the metabolic syndrome -- a set of risk factors associated with heart disease, including obesity, blood pressure, and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when the body becomes less responsive to the hormone insulin, and may be a precursor of diabetes.
``It has not really been clear how hostility plays itself out in terms of physiological risk,'' said Niaura in an interview with Reuters Health. ``We're seeing how all these things interconnect for the first time.''
The researchers studied over 1,000 men aged 44 to 92 who participated in the Normative Aging Study between 1987 and 1991. When measured on the Cook-Hedley Hostility Scale, the participants with higher hostility scores were more likely to also be overweight, have abdominal and upper body obesity, and have insulin resistance -- all risk factors for heart disease.
``I'm not sure you could say that if you scored a certain number on the hostility scale, you'd be two or three times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease,'' said Niaura. ''Ultimately, we'll look at how it all plays out in terms of disease.''
Since 98% of the initial sample were older white men, the researchers suggest that it is not known if its findings are applicable to women, younger men or men of different races.
``If people have the metabolic risk factors, they really need to see their doctor,'' advised Niaura.
The study also found more evidence that men with fewer years of education were more likely to be hostile. The finding suggests ``that hostility may be part of the cognitive/emotional/behavioral response to the chronic stress of low socioeconomic status,'' said Niaura in a statement.
More research is needed to take socioeconomic factors into account, and to look for the biological connection between hostility, obesity and heart risk, he said. SOURCE: Psychosomatic Medicine 2000;62:7-16.


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