Dial “D” for Distressed

16 09 2010

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We recently spoke about personality types, stress and cardiovascular disease. While many are familiar with the Type “A” or “B” personality traits, few know of some of the less popular, but equally malignant categories. A recent study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes[i] looked at the risk associated with the Type “D” personality. The “D” stands for distressing-really. These are the people who “experience a lot of negative emotions, such as pessimism, anxiety, irritation, depressed mood….” It also describes anyone who has had turned on the news in the last year.

These little bundles of joy also do not share emotions and fear disapproval. These emotions are associated with” three times the risk for future heart problems, including peripheral artery disease, heart failure, and death, compared to more optimistic sorts.” The study looked at almost 50 previous studies and approximately 6,000 people. These strong negative emotions affect our inflammatory system and thus increase the activity of pro-inflammatory cytokine and hormones like cortisol. This results in subjecting our bodies to increased oxidative stresses. As we recently noted, increased cortisol in those of 65 years of age increases the likelihood of death by five-fold. It turns out that being hostile is as bad for those that give it as those that receive it. So next time someone gets all up in your face, don’t dial “D” for distressed, dial “D” for drink and depart. Throw the drink on the face in your space and then depart. Or better yet, don’t waste the drink and dial “D” for a double.


[i] (Denollet, SChiffer, & Spek, 2010)

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