If stress is a frequent occurrence, are people who have strong emotional reactions to it more susceptible to inflammatory disease, including heart disease? A study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh suggests the answer is yes.
Subjects who reported high levels of anger and anxiety after performing a laboratory-based stress task showed greater increase in a marker of inflammation than those who remained relatively calm.
Researchers enrolled 102 relatively healthy male and female subjects. All participants were required to perform a stimulated public speaking task, consisting of 2 minutes of preparation for a speech where they needed to defend themselves against an alleged transgression, followed by 3 minutes of videotaped speech delivery.
Data analysis showed that subjects with the largest increase in pro-inflammatory markers were the ones who displayed the strongest emotional reactions-anger and anxiety- to the speaking task.
The results raise the possibility that individuals who became angry or anxious when confronting relatively minor challenges in their lives are prone to increases in inflammation. Over time, this may render these emotionally reactive individuals more vulnerable to inflammatory diseases, such as cardiovascular disease.
*Source: IDEA Health & Fitness Association