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Cynicism, grumpiness cause heart attacks, strokes

Old Git syndrome 'may not be confined to Italy'

Irascible, grumpy cynics have a significantly higher risk of suffering heart attacks and strokes compared to mellow, amiable, trusting people, according to a new study.

Researchers carrying out a survey found that "antagonistic" subjects - that is, those who were assessed as competitive, aggressive, manipulative or "quick to express anger" - showed noticeably thickened carotid arteries under ultrasound compared to "agreeable" types.

"Agreeable" subjects were those who showed more of the "six facets of agreeableness": trust, straightforwardness, altruism, compliance, modesty and tender mindedness.

According to Dr Angelina Sutin, one of the boffins working on the study:

“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 ...

“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.”

Sutin and her colleagues, carrying out a study on several thousand Italians over several years, found a strong link between testy cynicism and thickened arteries - even after controlling for other risk factors such as smoking etc.

“This may not be unique to Italians," comments Sutin, suggesting that anger management techniques and means of expressing corrosive distrust, tetchy sentiments etc “in more socially acceptable ways" might help to preserve people's health.

Read all about it here courtesy of Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association (subscription required for full article). ®

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