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Hostility Linked to Heart Disease?

Anger and hostility aren’t the same, although they often conjure up one familiar, unpleasant image. Picture the face of the driver you’ve accidentally cut off on the freeway - very angry, very hostile.

While anger is a feeling or emotion, hostility is actually a character and personality trait involving anger, cynicism, mistrust of others, and overt and repressed aggression.

Hostility (and anger) do little to contribute to health and wellness, but increasing evidence suggests that the opposite mechanism may take effect. Case in point comes from a study in the May 17, 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Hostility questionnaires administered to 374 men and women (18-30 years old at baseline) provided data on hostility (over a five-year period), and CT scans taken at year 10 examinations assessed the presence of detectable coronary artery calcification - heart disease.

Subjects with above-average hostility scores had more than two times the risk of coronary artery damage compared to less hostile subjects, and five-year changes in hostility were also related with incidence of the disease. The authors conclude that “…a high hostility level may predispose young adults to coronary artery calcification.”

So don’t get mad, get healthy! Your doctor can tell you more about the risk factors for heart disease and help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.


Iribarren C, Sidney S, Bild DE, et al. Association of hostility with coronary artery calcification in young adults. Journal of the American Medical Association, May 17, 2000: Vol. 283, No. 19, pp2546-51.

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