Couples’ quarrels bad for heart health

first_imgArguing with your partner really can break your heart. Research conducted by Utah psychologists shows spatting with your spouse can contribute to hardening of the coronary arteries. Such impact on the heart is more common in wives when they and their husbands express hostility during disagreements, and more common in husbands when either they or their wives act in a controlling manner. “Women who are hostile are more likely to have atherosclerosis (hardening of the coronary arteries), especially if their husbands are hostile too,” said University of Utah professor Tim Smith, who was scheduled to present the findings Friday in Denver at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society. In men, “their dominance or controlling behavior or their wives’ dominance was related to atherosclerosis,” Smith said. “A low-quality relationship is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.” The study, which began in 2002 and ended in 2005, was conducted with 150 healthy, older, married couples, mostly in their 60s. Participants had no history of cardiovascular disease and were each paid $150. Previous studies indicate close relationships are good for heart health because people aren’t as depressed or lonely. But the new study suggests that the quality of those relationships is important. “The surprising result is that this actually relates to a very hard health outcome – heart disease,” said U. psychologist Cynthia Berg, who contributed to the study. “There’s a lot we can do in terms of marital therapy. We can teach couples to be more warm in their relationships and be less dominant. It’s beneficial for people to know it’s not only good for their marriage but good for their health.” Smith and Berg conducted the study with Bert Uchino and Paul Florsheim, associate U. professors, and Gale Pearce, a postdoctoral fellow on the faculty of Westminster College in Salt Lake City. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant They also received a free $300 CT scan of their coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart and can cause a heart attack when clogged. The couples were told to pick a topic, such as money, in-laws, children, vacations or household duties, that was the subject of disagreements in their marriage. Each couple discussed the topic for six minutes while they were videotaped. Psychology graduate students evaluated each conversation. A comment like “you’re too negative all the time” was coded as hostile and dominant. “A warm, submissive comment would be, `Oh that’s a good idea, let’s do it,”‘ Smith said. “A less warm one would be, `If it’s important to you, I’ll do what you want.’ An unfriendly, submissive comment is, `I’ll do what you want if you get off my back.”‘ Some marital discussions were peaceful; some couples were referred to counseling. Two days after the discussion, each couple underwent a CT scan of the chest at the U.’s Center for Advanced Medical Technologies. Doctors then scored each person’s level of coronary artery calcification. last_img
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