HONOLULU, April 24 Anger and exhaustion may result in future heart attacks or sudden cardiac death, according to research presented today at the American Heart Associations Asia Pacific Scientific Forum.
To our knowledge, this is the first study to report the combined effects of these two psychological risk factors, says Janice Williams, Ph.D., M.P.H., an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and lead author of the study.
The study includes a bi-ethnic (black and white) sample of middle-aged men and women. It assessed the occurrence of heart attacks over nine years, a longer observation period than reported in previous studies.
Participants were members of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. ARIC is a large prospective study of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors conducted in four U. S. communities: suburban Minneapolis, Minn.; Washington County, Md.; Forsyth County, N.C.; and Jackson, Miss.
From 1990-98, researchers followed 12,453 men and women who were between the ages of 45 and 64 and had not had a heart attack when the study began to assess the occurrence of heart attacks and sudden cardiac death.
Participants took the 10-item Spielberger Trait Anger Scale to test for levels of trait anger (TA) and the 21-item Maastricht Questionnaire to determine levels of vital exhaustion (VE). TA is identified as a persons proneness to anger, and VE is defined as excessive fatigue, increased irritability and feelings of dejection or defeat.
Some sample items participants ranked in the anger survey include: I feel annoyed when I am not given recognition for doing good work; I am quick-tempered; and, I get angry when I am slowed down by others mistakes. Questions from the exhaustion survey included: Have you experienced a feeling of hopelessness recently?; Do you ever wake up with a feeling of exhaustion and fatigue?; and, Do you have a feeling that you cant cope?
Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association