2007-11-01 / News

Fighting with your family can play havoc with your heart

Fighting with family members can cause you a whole lot of pain... literally.

New research indicates that fighting with family members can increase your risk of heart disease and such coronary events as heart attacks or chest pain.

Individuals whose close relationships have negative aspects, such as conflict and adverse exchanges, appear to have an increased risk of heart disease than those with more positive close relationships, according to a

new report in the journal "Archives of

Internal Medicine."

Researchers from University College London found that those who experienced a high level of negativity in their close relationships were a third more likely to experience a coronary heart disease event than those who didn't fight with people close to them.

"An extensive body of research shows that social relations are associated with better health and reduced risks of cardiovascular disease," wrote lead researcher, Roberto De Vogli and his colleagues, as background for the journal article.

Bickering with your spouse and other close family members or friends may cause strong negative emotions, such as stress and worrying, that might lead to negative physical effects. Of course, this should come as no surprise to anyone who's felt anger or sadness after a family fight.

"When one considers emotional factors and their biological translation into the body, research shows that negative marital interactions are associated with depression, often in combination with reduced self-esteem and/or higher levels of anger," they added.

The study monitored 9,011 men and women and their relationships with up to four family members. It also adjusted for other factors that influence heart disease risk, such as smoking or psychological problems such as depression.

The researchers paid the most attention to each subject's primary close relationship, most often with his or her spouse. The participants were followed for an average of 12.2 years to see if they experienced fatal or non-fatal coronary events, including heart attacks or chest pain.

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