And that can help protect your arteries, study suggests
SUNDAY, Aug. 19 (HealthDay News) -- A man who keeps his cool in a stressful situation helps himself by increasing blood levels of HDL cholesterol, the good kind that keeps arteries clear, a study indicates.
And he might be adding years to his life.
That finding was a surprise, said Carolyn M. Aldwin, a member of a group presenting the study Saturday night at the American Psychological Association's annual convention, in San Francisco.
The belief has been that a man who invokes a hostile response to stress hurts his cardiovascular system by increasing the level of LDL cholesterol, the bad kind that forms artery-blocking plaques, said Aldwin, who is chairwoman of the department of human development and family sciences at Oregon State University.
"It was thought that the choice of a coping strategy had an immediate effect on LDL cholesterol," she said. But the better copers in the study had higher HDL levels.
The study found no effect on LDL cholesterol levels, she said.
The researchers worked with 716 men, almost all of them white, with an average age of 65, who took part in a long-term study on aging. Each was asked to describe his most stressful situation encountered in the previous week and was asked to choose among 26 strategies for coping with stress. Those strategies were scored on the basis of hostility the men displayed and other characteristics.
Blood samples were taken from the men after an overnight fast and measured for levels of HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and the fats called triglycerides. Lower HDL levels were found in the men who used hostility as a coping strategy and also among those demonstrating self-blame and self isolation. Those strategies did raise levels of triglycerides a bit but had no effect on LDL readings.
The study was not designed to determine the mechanism that affected chole