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Family Infighting Hurts the Heart
Date:10/8/2007

Spats with spouse, kids, others boosts cardiovascular dangers, study finds

MONDAY, Oct. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Clashing with those you're closest to can literally bring on a heap of heartache.

So finds a British study that linked constant bickering to a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease.

When the researchers accounted for other heart risk factors, such as depression or smoking, "negative close relationships" boosted the risk of coronary events by a third, according to a report in the Oct. 8 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"Previous research in this area focused more on philosophy," said lead researcher Robert De Vogli, a lecturer in social epidemiology at University College London. "It was assumed that if you were married, you were more likely to be healthy. It was well established that social relationships are important for health."

But more recently, De Vogli said, "research has focused on the quality of social relationships, rather than on their quantity -- emotional support and social support, what kind of interactions you have with this partner."

The study included about 9,000 British civil servants who filled out questionnaires on up to four close relationships, with most attention paid to the primary relationship. Two-thirds of the time, that relationship was with a spouse.

The participants were also asked about the emotional and practical support they received from that person. They were then followed for more than 12 years, with data collected on the incidence of heart disease events in the group.

Any increased heart risk found in the study appeared unrelated to either the participant's sex or social position. And it was not related to the social and emotional support given to an individual, the team found.

Instead, "it is possible that negative aspects of close relationships are more important for the health of individual
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