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Demanding Relatives May Raise Heart Risks in Middle Age

THURSDAY, Dec. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Dealing with family worries and demands can increase a person's risk of developing the painful symptoms of angina, researchers say.

Angina, which is chest pain or discomfort caused when the heart does not get enough blood, is a symptom of coronary artery disease.

In the new study, Danish researchers tracked the heart health of 4,500 men and women in their 40s and 50s over six years starting in 1999. The participants, none of whom had any heart problems at the start of the study, also provided details about the quality of their relationships with a spouse or intimate partner, children, other relatives, friends and neighbors.

After the six years of follow-up, 9.5 percent of men and 9.1 percent of women had symptoms of angina. Those most likely to report symptoms were in their 50s, less affluent and depressed.

When the researchers closely examined the participants' personal relationships, they found evidence of an association between troublesome relationships and angina risk. Worrisome/demanding relationships with a partner or child had the greatest impact, increasing the risk of angina symptoms by more than 3.5 times and two times, respectively.

Excessive worries/demands from other relatives nearly doubled the risk, while concerns/demands from friends and neighbors had little effect.

The study also found that:

  • The greater the amount of worry/demand in a relationship, the higher the chances that a person would report the constrictive chest pain symptoms of angina.
  • Frequent disagreements with a partner increased the risk by 44 percent, and quarrels with neighbors amplified the risk by 60 percent, but arguments with children, more distant relatives and friends did not boost the risk of angina.
  • The association between relationship issues and angina held true even after the researchers adjusted for major angina factors such as smoking and lack of exercise.
  • Supportive relationships did not counter the negative impact that worrisome/demanding interactions had on heart health.

The study is published in the Dec. 23 online edition of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about angina.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: BMJ Journals, news release, Dec. 22, 2010

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