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Anger, Hostility Raise Heart Risks

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Men who explode with anger and expect the worst from people are more likely to develop atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm that can lead to pooled blood, clots and strokes.

Anger and hostility, not classic Type A behavior, are risk factors for the development of coronary heart disease, atrial fibrillation and death, according to a new study reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Hostile people expect the worst from others and feel a need to defend against it, while Type A people are always in a rush, hate having to wait, think about work all the time, are very competitive and have a strong need to excel.

After adjusting for known risk factors such as age and high blood pressure, researchers found that those with stronger feelings of hostility were 30 percent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation compared with men with lower hostility levels.

Men who scored high on anger - fiery, quick-tempered, hot-headed, annoyed when slighted and furious when criticized - had a 10 percent greater risk of developing atrial fibrillation, and those whose anger was accompanied by physical symptoms, such as shaking, headaches and muscle tension, had a 20 percent higher risk.

By contrast, researchers found no increased risk in men who rated high on Type A behavior.

Another study, reported in the March 23 issue of the same journal, found that mental stress is capable of inducing arrhythmias - heart rhythm disturbances - at significantly lower heart rates than exercise, the traditional means of inducing physical stress to assess risk.

ONLINE: American Heart Association:


(c) 2004, Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

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