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Heart Disease Linked to Conflict in Close Relationships

Association persists regardless of sex and health behaviors, but depression remains a factor

MONDAY, Oct. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Negative close relationships can increase the risk of incident coronary heart disease, researchers report in the Oct. 8 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Robert De Vogli, Ph.D., of the University College London in the United Kingdom, and colleagues followed 9,011 British civil servants (approximately two-thirds male, aged 35 to 55) with no history of cardiac events at baseline. Participants answered questionnaires regarding their primary relationships, and their medical records were followed to determine subsequent cardiac events. The average follow-up period was 12.2 years.

After adjustment for confounders including sex, employment grade and health behaviors, those who reported high levels of conflict and adverse exchanges in their close relationships were 1.34 times more likely to experience incident coronary heart disease than those who reported low levels of negative aspects in their close relationships. No association was found with the presence or absence of emotional and practical support, but depression and negative affectivity were statistically significant factors.

"The possibility that negative close relationships are more powerful predictors of health than other aspects of social support is consistent with previous research findings indicating that individuals tend to mentally replay negative encounters more than they replay positive ones," the authors note.

Abstract
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