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Men and Anger and Heart Disease Revisited

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

Yet another study demonstrated the direct connection between male hostility and heart disease. This most recent study was reported in the August 2007 issue of Brain, Behavior and Immunity, and found that men who often experience intense anger and depression are at high risk for such things as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. This study was conducted over a twenty year period and included 313 male Vietnam veterans.

Here is how the study worked: The men were given psychological tests for hostility, anger and depression. In addition, blood tests were taken and repeated between 1992 and 2002. These blood tests were used to measure proteins that are markers internal inflammation that causes such things as cardio vascular disease and diabetes.

Those men who scored highest for hostility and depression on the psychological test were shown to have the highest levels of the proteins that lead to heart and other diseases. Variables such as alcohol use, smoking, race, weight and age and were found to have no influence on the findings.

The researchers conclude that further research is needed to determine whether anger reduction and other types of psychotherapy help in reducing the proteins in the blood that cause these problems. However, they stress the fact that anger reduction and psychotherapy can improve the types of relationships these men have with their friends and families and thereby improve everyone’s quality of life.

What is interesting about so much of this type of research is the fact that it demonstrates the effects of stress, violence, tension and trauma not only on our minds but on our physical health as well.

For example, another recent study showed that women who have been exposed to domestic violence during the past year have a 37 percent increased risk for asthma. In this study the researchers pointed out that domestic violence and other severe stressors increase the body’s inflammatory process leading to an asthmatic attack.

Stress, anger, hostility and depression join together to form a picture of a process leading to inflammation, heart disease, asthma, diabetes and many other illnesses. All of this also makes life feels miserable for all concerned.

What to do?

The therapeutic benefits of exercise, Tai Chi, meditation and leisure activities have been demonstrated in reducing stress and depression. Then, there is medication and psychotherapy as well as an effort on the part of every person to find meaning in their lives.

Did you know that holding hands helps reduce blood pressure? In fact, petting your dog and cat has the same effect.

Your comments are both welcome and encouraged.

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