Wayne Adult Community Center
Feature article from the May, 2006 Cyberspace News


Your Heart Literally Hurts When You Fight
When older couples fight, both parties are hurt. Women are likely to suffer hardening of the coronary arteries, and so are men, if they feel controlled or try to act in a controlling manner. Those are major findings of a study of 150 healthy, older, married couples Ė mostly in their 60s.

The study was conducted by psychologists at the University Of Utah. Women who are hostile are more likely to have atherosclerosis (hardening of the coronary arteries), especially if their husbands are hostile as well. In men, the hostility, whether itís their own or their wivesí hostility during the interaction, was not related to atherosclerosis. However, their dominance or controlling behavior, or their wives dominance, was related to atherosclerosis in the men. In summary, a low-quality relationship isa risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

The study began in 2002 and ended in 2005. It involved 150 married couples with at least one member between 60 and 70 years of age and the other one no more than five years older or younger. Those who participated had no history of cardiovascular disease, and were not taking medicine for it.

Each couple was told to pick a topic that was the subject of disagreements in their marriage. Topics included money, in-laws, children, and household duties. Then, while sitting in comfortable chairs and facing each other across a table, each couple discussed the chosen topic for six minutes while they were videotaped.

The researchers also discovered that:
  • The more hostile the wives' comments during the discussion, the greater the extent of calcification or hardening of the arteries. And especially high levels of calcification were found in women who behaved in a hostile and unfriendly way and who were interacting with husbands who were also hostile and unfriendly.

  • Husbands who displayed more dominance or controlling behavior, or whose wives displayed such behavior, were more likely than other men to have more severe hardening of the arteries.
Therefore, finding ways to disagree without being hostile or controlling benefits both parties. And just as previous research indicates that close relationships are good for the health of our heart, this research indicates that the quality of those relationships is important as well.

Remember that having a healthy heart is dependent on a number of variables including habits (donít smoke!), diet, and exercise. Relationships are just one part of the whole healthy heart picture.

Source: www.seniorjournal.com

Note: The information contained in this article is intended for information purposes only. WACC assumes no responsibility for this material. Readers with questions regarding any of the matters discussed here are strongly encouraged to do more research on their own and to speak with their doctor. Remember: youíre a partner in your healthcare!