Latest research shows that timid and withdrawn men increase their chances of dying from heart attacks by up to fifty percent, as against their more gregarious peers.
The scientists led by Jarett Berry and Philip Greenland of Northwestern University of Chicago, who published their findings in The Annals of Epidemiology, drew their conclusions from a study of 2100 middle-aged men spanning 30 years.
The study included extensive and detailed examinations of the personalities of the subjects and their classification into four types-A, B, C and D.
At the beginning of the study, all volunteers were asked to fill in psychological questionnaires. By the end of the study period, 60 percent of the original study subjects had died. The researchers then matched the death certificates of these men with the questionnaires to understand each man's personality type.
Their analysis revealed that the most of the men who were shy died either due to a heart attack or stroke and the overall risk of such death 50 percent higher than men who were more sociable.
The researchers also studied the men's lifestyles to check links to other known risk factors such as smoking, drinking or obesity, and no such link was found. This negated the theory that shy or anti-social men might be prone to unhealthy, couch potato behavior and so more likely to die.
The researchers now opine that either shy men get more stressed out by new situations, or there is a link between their introvert personality and that section of the brain that keeps the heart operating smoothly.
This is not the first such study to link personality types and higher risks of heart diseases.
Several studies have shown that those people with one particular type of personality face no increased risk of serious disease - the easygoing type. In medical terms, such people are known as "B" personalities.
High blood pressure and heart disease is common among type "A" personalities - people who are driven workaholics and prone to stress and anger. Type "C" people on the other hand face an increased risk of cancer on account of their suppressing their feelings. Studies have also linked increased risk of heart attack and stroke with type "D" personality, which is seen in people who are pessimistic and have low self-confidence.
According to Dr. Eric Brunner, an epidemiologist at University College London, a shy personality can be the result of feeling socially inferior. This could lead to unhealthy changes in lifestyle and behavior and even disturb the balance of the body's hormones.