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Heart disease: Men Are From Mars, Women From Venus

It has been known for a long time that mutual antagonism between husband and wife can lead to increased risk of heart disease//. It has now been possible to pinpoint the exact reason. Expression of hostility during marital disagreements can lead to hardening of coronary arteries (atherosclerosis) in women while controlling behavior of either spouse has been found to result in heart disease in men.

Dr. Tim Smith and fellow researchers from University of Utah have conducted this research on nearly 150 healthy couples, over 50 years of age. The three-year study (2002-2005) was conducted on healthy couples, devoid of cardiovascular disease. The study participants were subjected to CT examination to look for presence of calcification in the coronary arteries (arteries that supply the heart). Clogging of the coronary arteries leads to heart attack.

The coupes were allowed to discuss any topic that could lead to marital disagreement (children, household work, in-laws, money, vacation) for a period of 6 minutes during which a videotape recording of the conversation was done. The conversations were given a suitable code to establish the nature of the conversation (friendly versus hostile and submissive versus dominant). This facilitated easy analysis of the obtained data.

Comments such as 'You're too negative all the time' or 'You can be so stupid sometimes' were regarded to be hostile and dominant while statements like 'I don't want you to do that; I want you to do this' were rated to be dominant or controlling. 'I'll do what you want if you get off my back' was regarded an unfriendly submissive comment. Comments such as 'Oh that's a good idea, let's do it' reflected a warm submissive statement while one such as 'If it's important to you, I'll do what you want' was considered to be less warm.

Although some conversations seemed peaceful and calm, most of the couples displayed hostility to a level that necessitated marriage coun
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