Are you a Type D personality?
We're heard a lot about hard-driving Type A personalities dropping dead from heart attacks. But what about Type D personalities? New research suggests that they, too, are prone to heart problems.
You might be wondering: What is a Type D personality? It's a notion that's been around since the 1990s to describe someone who tends to experience a lot of negative emotions, such as pessimism, anxiety, irritation, depressed mood. Type D's tend to be socially inhibited, so they don't often to share these emotions with others. They fear disapproval. A Type D personality can be identified with a brief 14-item questionnaire that includes asking people if they would describe themselves with phrases such as, "I am a closed person" and "I often feel unhappy."
Viola Spek of Tilburg University in the Netherlands and colleagues analyzed 49 studies involving 6,121 people and found that heart patients with Type D personality were about three times as likely as other people to have cardiovascular problems, such as a heart attack or a need for angioplasty, bypass surgery or heart transplant.
Not surprisingly, they were also three times as likely to experience depression, anxiety and other forms of poor mental health, the researchers reported in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.
The reason why Type D personalities may be at increased risk could be because they tend to have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases blood pressure. It might also be related to elevated levels of inflammation. Such patients might also be less likely to get regular checkups or communicate well with their doctors.
The researchers say that doctors might want to screen patients for such personality traits and try to help them, such as recommending therapy.
| September 14, 2010; 4:00 PM ET
Categories: Cardiovascular Health, Chronic Conditions, Psychology
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