Using a sample of 774 older White men (average age was 60) from the Normative Aging Study, lead researcher Raymond Niaura, Ph.D., and colleagues sought to determine whether hostility was an independent influence or a contributing factor in CHD development. Hostility levels, blood lipids, fasting insulin, blood pressure, body measurement index (BMI), weight-hip ratio (WHR), diet, alcohol intake, smoking and education attainment were assessed over a three year period beginning in 1986.
Incidences of CHD were more common in those with higher levels of hostility then those with other risk factors such as high cholesterol, alcohol intake or smoking tobacco, said Dr. Niaura. In this sample of older men with high levels of hostility, 5.8 percent (45) experienced at least one episode of CHD during their involvement with the NAS study. According to the authors, hostility is associated with and predicts incidents of coronary heart disease above and beyond the influence of known risk factors that include blood lipid profiles, sociodemographic characteristics, alcohol consumption and smoking. Specifically, HDL-cholesterol levels did significantly protect against CHD but hostility levels predicted incidences of CHD independent of the protective effect of HDL.
"Furthermore, older men with the highest levels of hostility were at the greatest risk for developing CHD, independent of the effects of fasting insulin, BMI, WHR, triglcyride levels and blood pressure," said the authors. It could be that high hostility levels predisposes an individual to CHD through other mechanisms not measured in this study, like cardiac arrhythmia, imbalances in the nervo
Contact: Pam Willenz
American Psychological Association