Arguing with Your Spouse is Bad for Heart Health

The more you fight with your mate and the nastier you are to each other, the more vulnerable you are to heart disease, suggests a new study. Researchers at the University of Utah recruited 150 married couples and asked them to pick a topic that often triggers marital conflict (such as in-laws, finances and household chores). Then, the researchers asked them to discuss the topic for six minutes while being videotaped. Some couples discussed their topics calmly, but others escalated into hostility, domineering remarks and verbal sniping. Then, all the participants had CT scans to check out their coronary arteries (when these arteries clog with cholesterol and plaque, blood can’t flow easily through the heart, leading to heart attacks). The CTs showed that the coronary arteries of both husbands and wives whose discussions were most heated and hostile were in much worse shape than the blood vessels of the calmer couples. The clogging process may stem from stress that raises blood pressure, which damages arteries making them more vulnerable to dangerous deposits of cholesterol and plaque. Learning to discuss marital matters calmly may lead to a healthier heart, the researchers suggested.

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