Heart attack, stroke risks higher for combative types

People who tend to be confrontational, especially those who are competitive and aggressive, run a higher risk of heart attack and stroke, according to a study released Monday.

Researchers with the National Institute on Aging (NIA) examined 5,614 residents of four villages in Sardinia, an Italian Mediterranean island.

People who classed themselves as aggressive on a standard personality test were more likely to suffer from thickening of the neck arteries than those those who were classed as affable or accommodating, the research found.

Thickening of the arteries is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke, note the authors of the study which appeared in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Three years after the first research was done, "those who scored higher on antagonism or low agreeableness - especially those who were manipulative and quick to express anger - continued to have thickening of their artery walls. These traits also predicted greater progression of arterial thickening," the study found.

Among those examined, people who were the most antagonistic 10 percent had about a 40-percent higher risk for thicker arteries.

"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," said Angelina Sutin, Ph.D., the lead author.

"Agreeable people tend to be trusting, straightforward and show concern for others, while people who score high on antagonism tend to be distrustful, skeptical and at the extreme cynical, manipulative, self-centered, arrogant and quick to express anger," she added.

The NIA-funded study was done on Sardinia, with participants aged 14-94 (42 on average) and 58 percent were women.

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