Fighting Your Way to a Heart Attack

Speaking of making yourself happier and your life easier, there are serious health benefits to both of these good habits. A recent study, for example, has confirmed that stress and anger can be linked to heart disease.

The researchers looked at 150 married couples. None of them had ever been diagnosed with heart disease. Each couple was asked to choose an issue that caused conflict in their marriage (money, children, etc.). And they were videotaped discussing it privately. When the tapes were reviewed, the researchers scored what they said to each other. Specifically, they were looking for hostility, as well as statements that were submissive or domineering.

Each participant was given two CT scans to measure the amount of plaque in their arteries. One was given before the videotaped session and one two days later.

What the researchers discovered was that when couples argued, they increased their risk of heart disease. But there was a difference between the two sexes:

* For the women, hostility was the stress trigger. When the wife exhibited hostility, the follow-up CT scan showed a significant increase in her plaque build-up. When both husband and wife were hostile, that increase was even greater.

* For the men, controlling behavior was the trigger. When either partner made controlling statements, the follow-up scan showed an increase in the husband’s plaque.

The lesson: Conflict may be unavoidable in any relationship. But if you stay civil in your “discussions” you’ll be much better off.