Hostile individuals have more bad health habits and more cardiovascular disease

November 03, 2013 | by Steven Rothrock MD

This week, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers compared self-reported hostility to new cardiovascular events (heart attacks, heart failure, stroke, death, transient ischemic attack) in a group of 1022 individuals with prior heart disease who were enrolled in the Heart and Soul Study. Baseline hostility was measured using the Cynical Distrust Scale (see below) and individuals were categorized into fourths (quartiles) based on their score using this scale. Enrolled subjects were followed for an average of seven and a half years.  After adjusting for baseline cardiac risk factors, secondary or new cardiovascular events were 68 percent more likely to occur in those in the upper quartile of hostility compared to those in the lowest quartile of hostility.

For those who are interested, here the Cynical Distrust Scale rates the following eight items from 0 to 3

  • I think most people would lie to get ahead.
  • Most people inwardly dislike putting themselves out to help other people.
  • Most people make friends because friends are likely to be useful to them.
  • It is safer to trust nobody.
  • No one cares much what happens to you.
  • Most people are honest chiefly through fear of being caught.
  • I commonly wonder what hidden reasons another person may have for doing something nice to me.
  • Most people will use somewhat unfair means to gain profit or an advantage rather than lose it.

Prior studies have defined a score of 0 to 8 as low hostility and 9 or greater as high hostility.

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