Older men with high levels of hostility have a greater risk of heart disease than if they smoke or have high cholesterol. Researchers in the US conducted a survey of 720 men, average age 65, noting their level of hostility towards others and the world around them. They also asked them about traditional heart disease risk factors, like smoking, high cholesterol, and weight to hip ratio.
They found that among the men with a high level of hostility, 5.0% experienced at least one cardiac event, such as heart attack or hospital admission, during the study. This makes hostility an even greater risk factor for heart problems that smoking, alcohol consumption, cholesterol, and socio-economic factors. The researchers suggest that hostility has an impact upon the nervous system that may affect the health of the heart in ways that further research may uncover. In the meantime, psychological interventions to reduce levels of hostility could benefit those at greatest risk.