Researchers from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) in Baltimore, a division of the National Institutes of Health, found that people who are angry and aggressive showed a greater thickness of the carotid arteries in the neck, a key risk factor for heart attack or stroke, compared with people who were more easygoing.
WebMD Health News has published this report on August 16:
People considered the least agreeable and the most antagonistic had a 40% increased risk for arterial wall thickening. This is similar to the risk imparted by having metabolic syndrome, a known potent contributor to heart disease.
The findings suggest that physicians should consider personality traits when screening patients for cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.
According to the American Heart Association, there are about 1.2 million heart attacks and 800,000 strokes every year. Cardiovascular disease accounts for about one-third of all deaths.
The latest findings uphold the connection between aggressive behavior and heart health. “People who tend to be competitive and more willing to fight for their own self-interest have thicker arterial walls, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” says study author Angelina Sutin, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute on Aging.
“Agreeable people tend to be trusting, straightforward, and show concern for others, while people who score high on antagonism tend to be distrustful, skeptical, and at the extreme cynical, manipulative, self-centered, arrogant, and quick to express anger.”