Dangerous duo: Hostility plus depression elevates risk for heart disease

Feb 11, 2008

Researchers led by Jesse Stewart, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, report that hostility and depression appear to act together in a complex way to elevate inflammatory proteins in the human body, possibly putting hostility plus depression on the list of risk factors for heart disease along with high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and smoking.

The findings, that hostility enhances inflammatory processes relevant to heart disease only in the presence of depressive symptoms, are published in the February-March 2008 issue of Psychosomatic Medicine. Dr. Stewart and colleagues examined associations of depressive symptoms and hostility with blood levels of two inflammatory proteins, interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein, that are predictive of future heart disease. Participants in the study were 316 healthy men and women aged 50-70.

Previous studies have found depression to be associated with raised inflammatory protein levels. Other studies have confirmed links between hostility and inflammatory proteins that are predictive of heart disease. But this study is the first to find that, among older adults, the relationship between hostility and these inflammatory proteins depends on the level of depression.

“In our study, we looked at depression and hostility simultaneously, and we found that the relationship of these negative emotions to inflammatory markers is more complex and much stronger than depression or hostility individually,” said Dr. Stewart, who notes that depression and hostility tend to co-occur within individuals.

Psychological risk factors for heart disease merit further study. According to Dr. Stewart, the strength of the association of psychological factors with future heart disease is similar to that of traditional risk factors like smoking, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol.

“There are of course mental health reasons to treat depression and hostility. Now we know there is a physical health reason – the link to cardiovascular diseases,” said Dr. Stewart, a clinical health psychologist at IUPUI’s School of Science, is an IU Center for Aging Research affiliated scientist.

Source: Indiana University

Explore further: New insights into eyewitness memory from groundbreaking replication initiative

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Team improves solar-cell efficiency

3 hours ago

New light has been shed on solar power generation using devices made with polymers, thanks to a collaboration between scientists in the University of Chicago's chemistry department, the Institute for Molecular ...

Calif. teachers fund to boost clean energy bets

3 hours ago

The California State Teachers' Retirement System says it plans to increase its investments in clean energy and technology to $3.7 billion, from $1.4 billion, over the next five years.

Alibaba surges in Wall Street debut

3 hours ago

A buying frenzy sent Alibaba shares sharply higher Friday as the Chinese online giant made its historic Wall Street trading debut.

Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

3 hours ago

Bent and tossed by the wind, a field of soybean plants presents a challenge for an Asian lady beetle on the hunt for aphids. But what if the air—and the soybeans—were still?

Recommended for you

Mother-daughter research team studies severe-weather phobia

Sep 19, 2014

No one likes severe weather, but for some just the thought of a thunderstorm, tornado, hurricane or blizzard can severely affect their lives. When blood pressures spike, individuals obsessively monitor weather forecasts and ...

Study: Pupil size shows reliability of decisions

Sep 18, 2014

Te precision with which people make decisions can be predicted by measuring pupil size before they are presented with any information about the decision, according to a new study published in PLOS Computational Bi ...

User comments : 0