HEALTH CAPSULE: Marital clash harms the heart

Marital brawls are harmful for the heart, says a study. The study, conducted by University of Utah scientists, found marital rows especially hostile arguments between couples could harm their heart’s health.

The researchers studied 150 married couples and found that arterial disease in women was linked to either partner demonstrating hostility, but in men it was linked to either showing controlling behaviour. Couples were asked to pick a topic that caused disagreements in their marriage. They were then videoed while they discussed the topic. The comments were coded as friendly or hostile. Participants were also given a scan to check for signs of disease. When the results were analysed, it was found that the wives who made the most hostile comments during the discussion had a greater degree of calcification, which indicates that plaque is building up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. Particularly 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. However, husbands who displayed more dominance behaviour, or whose wives displayed such behaviour, were more likely than other men to have more severe hardening of the arteries.