Men who easily fly off the handle appear to be at a greater risk of having a stroke or dying. Their risk is even greater than men who are simply stressed-out type A personalities. Angry women, however, do not run as high a risk of having a stroke or heart problems, according to the results of a new study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation (March 1, 2004). The findings of this study are significant, because, unlike previous studies, it was long-term and it was based on the Framingham Heart Study, a major study that began in 1948 in Framingham, Mass.
The researchers analyzed >3000 adult children of the original participants in the Massachusetts study. The study found that men who show their anger have a 10% greater risk, compared with nonhostile men, of developing atrial fibrillation. Although it is nonthreatening for many, it also can increase the risk of stroke. Similarly, men who are usually hostile and disapproving of other individuals are 30% more apt to develop an irregular heart rhythm, compared with men with less hostility. In addition, men who expressed their anger were 20% more likely to have died from any cause during the study.
Lead researcher Elaine Eaker, ScD, president of Eaker Epidemiology Enterprises in Chili, Wis, stated that the results mean that investigators can say with more assurance that anger and hostility serve as an independent risk factor. Also, the researchers found that there is no increased risk in men who rate high in type A behavior?men who often are impatient and competitive.