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Hostility, depression may boost heart disease protein level

Mild to moderate levels of depression symptoms combined with feelings of hostility in healthy men may raise their levels of a protein that is associated with clogged arteries and a greater risk of heart attack, according to new research in Psychosomatic Medicine. The new findings suggest "the possibility that men who are hostile and exhibit depressive symptoms, even in the mild to moderate range, are at heightened risk for cardiac events," according to Edward C. Suarez, Ph.D., of Duke University Medical Center

"Although studies have shown that hostility and depressive symptoms are associated with greater risk of heart disease, the reasons for these associations are not well understood. It is increasingly apparent, however, that inflammation in the bloodstream is linked with heart disease," says Edward C. Suarez, Ph.D., of Duke University Medical Center.

Previous studies indicate that the protein, called IL-6, is at least a marker of inflammation, and may even be involved in the inflammatory processes that cause artery thickening and buildup. However, researchers know little about IL-6's relation to psychological risk factors, Suarez says.

Suarez examined the link between depression and hostility and IL-6 levels in 90 healthy, nonsmoking men ages 18 to 45. After giving a blood sample, the participants answered two questionnaires to determine their level of depressive symptoms and hostility.

Men who scored highest on both questionnaires, indicating increased symptoms of depression and higher levels of hostility, had IL-6 levels that were two to five times higher than men who scored low on both questionnaires or scored high on only one questionnaire.

The association between the psychological factors and IL-6 held steady even after accounting for other factors associated with IL-6, such as age, body weight, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure.

Suarez is currently studying the relationship between IL-6, hostility an
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Contact: Edward Suarez
suare001@mc.duke.edu
Center for the Advancement of Health
30-Jul-2003


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