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'Type D' Personality Linked to Increased Risk for Heart Problems

TUESDAY, Sept. 14 -- Heart patients with a pessimistic "Type D" personality may be at increased risk for future cardiovascular problems, according to a new review article.

U.S. researchers analyzed data from more than 6,000 patients in 49 studies that looked at the link between heart and psychological health and Type D personality, which is characterized by negative emotions, pessimism and social inhibition.

The analysis revealed that heart patients with a Type D personality had a three-fold increased risk for future cardiovascular problems, such as peripheral artery disease, angioplasty or bypass procedures, heart failure, heart transplantation, heart attack or death.

The article is published Sept. 14 in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

"Type D patients tend to experience increased levels of anxiety, irritation and depressed mood across situations and time, while not sharing these emotions with others because of fear of disapproval," senior author Viola Spek, a researcher at Tiburg University in the Netherlands, said in an American Heart Association news release. "We found that Type D personality predicts (illness and death) in these patients, independent of traditional medical risk factors."

The researchers also found that patients with a Type D personality had a three-fold increase in the long-term risk of psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety or poor mental health.

By screening heart patients to identify those with Type D personality traits, doctors could provide psychological or behavioral counseling and perhaps improve cardiovascular outcomes, the study authors suggested.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute explains how to prevent heart disease.

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Posted: September 2010