Affect and heart diseaseBMJ 2008; 337 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.a177 (Published 30 June 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a177
- Virginia W Chang, assistant professor of medicine and sociology
- 1Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6021, USA
Although connections between emotions and the health of the heart have been postulated for centuries,1 population based empirical studies were not available until recently. Early interest in the 1970s centred on the type A behaviour pattern characterised by a tendency towards impatience, anger, competitiveness, and achievement. On the whole, however, findings on type A behaviour as a risk factor for coronary heart disease were inconsistent, leading to the notion that subcomponents such as anger may have a more definitive role.
More recently, studies on psychological risk factors have focused on anger, anxiety, and depression.1 2 3 Although the topic is continually debated, many prospective studies suggest that anxiety and depression increase the risk for heart disease, especially incident heart disease.3 Results for anger are more mixed.3
The linked study by Nabi and colleagues uses data from the Whitehall II study to examine the association between affect and the development of incident coronary heart disease over 12 years of follow-up.4 Coronary heart disease was defined as the occurrence of fatal coronary heart disease, first non-fatal myocardial infarction, or first angina. This …