Antagonistic People Have Higher Risk Of Stroke And Heart Attack Due To Artery Thickening

Aug 17th, 2010 | By healthnews | Category: Health

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Main Category: Cardiovascular / Cardiology
Also Included In: Stroke;  Heart Disease;  Psychology / Psychiatry
Article Date: 17 Aug 2010 – 8:00 PDT

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New research suggests that antagonistic people, and especially those who are manipulative and aggressive, have a higher risk
of stroke and heart attack due to arterial thickening, over and above traditional cardiovascular risk factors, than people who are
more agreeable, straightforward and compliant.

You can read how researchers from the US and Italy came to these conclusions in a paper published in the 16 August issue of
Hypertension, a journal of the American Heart Association.

First author Dr Angelina Sutin, a postdoctoral fellow with the National Institute on Aging (NIH), based in Baltimore, Maryland in
the US, told the press they found that:

“People who tend to be competitive and more willing to fight for their own self interest have thicker arterial walls, which is a risk
factor for cardiovascular disease.”

She said more agreeable people tend to be more trusting and straightforward and they show concern for others. In contrast, those
at the other end of the agreeableness spectrum score high on antagonism, are distrustful of others, more skeptical, self-centred,
arrogant, cynical, manipulative, and quick to show anger.

The researchers wrote in their paper that while we already have a lot of evidence linking high antagonism and cardiovascular risk,
what is not clear is how intermediate markers of cardiovascular disease relate to these psychological traits.

For the study they looked at data on a large sample of 5,614 people living in four villages in Sardinia in Italy to examine how trait
antagonism or low agreeableness and related facets related to arterial thickening, a known risk factor for heart attack and

The participants were taking part in the SardiNIA Study of Aging, which is supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), a
component of the NIH. Their average age was 42, ranging from 14 to 94, and 58 per cent were female.

The participants completed a standard personality test at the start of the study, which ran for 3 years. The test included a six-facet measure of agreeableness that covered: trust, straightforwardness, altruism, compliance, modesty and tender mindedness,
said the researchers in a press statement.

The measure of arterial thickening that the researchers used was the thickness of the artery wall in the carotid: an artery inside
the neck that supplies oxygen-rich blood to the head and neck. They examined it at the start and the end of the three years, using
an ultrasound scanner that measured the intima-media thickness of the carotid at five points in the neck.

The participants also underwent screening for other known cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure, cholesterol
levels, triglycerides, fasting glucose and diabetes.

After ruling out effects from demographics such as age and sex, and other known cardiovascular risk factors, the researchers
found that participants who scored low on agreeableness, and had particularly low scores on scales relating to straightforwardness
and compliance, tended to have thicker artery walls, both at the start and the end of the study, and also showed a greater increase
in this thickness over the duration.

In fact, their analysis showed that those in the lowest 10 per cent of agreeableness were 40 per cent more likely to show an
increase in artery wall thickness over the three years of the study.

The authors noted that this effect was similar in magnitude to having metabolic syndrome, a known risk factor for cardiovascular

When they looked at gender differences, they found that:

“Although men have thicker arterial walls, women with antagonistic traits had similar carotid thickening as antagonistic

Going into more detail on this gender-related finding, Sutin said that:

“Women who scored high on antagonism related traits tended to close the gap, developing arterial thickness similar to
antagonistic men.”

“Whereas women with agreeable traits had much thinner arterial walls than men with agreeable traits, antagonism had a much
stronger association with arterial thickness in women,” she added.

The researchers concluded that:

“Antagonistic individuals, especially those who are manipulative and aggressive, have greater increases in arterial thickening,
independent of traditional cardiovascular risk factors.”

Sutin said that although thickening of the artery wall is linked to aging, younger people who scored high on antagonism were
already showing thickening.

Although lifestyle could be a factor, this link persisted even when they took out the possible effect of known risk factors like
smoking, she explained, urging doctors to consider antagonism and related personality traits when taking into account risk factors
for cardiovascular disease, over and above the well known ones like smoking, diabetes, weight and cholesterol.

Sutin also commented that while the participants of this study lived in small Italian villages, the findings could well apply to all of
us, regardless of where we live.

“Trait Antagonism and the Progression of Arterial Thickening. Women With Antagonistic Traits Have Similar Carotid
Arterial Thickness as Men.”

Angelina R. Sutin, Angelo Scuteri, Edward G. Lakatta, Kirill V. Tarasov, Luigi Ferrucci, Paul T. Costa, Jr, David Schlessinger,
Manuela Uda, and Antonio Terracciano.
Hypertension, Published online 16 Aug 2010.

Additional source: American Heart Association.

Written by: Catharine Paddock, PhD

Copyright: Medical News Today

Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today

Could it be the personality?

posted by MM on 17 Aug 2010 at 9:32 am

I think it’s interesting that there is no reference to aggressive Christians, Muslims, Atheists, etc. This article appears to be skewed in a specific manner that is not scientific, but inflammatory.

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