Magazine article Science News

Type A and Coronary Artery Disease

Magazine article Science News

Type A and Coronary Artery Disease

Article excerpt

Type A and coronary artery disease

Researchers may have added another piece to the puzzle concerning type A behavior's relationship with coronary artery disease.

Type A behavior is characterized by impatience and anger. During stressful situations, it increases blood pressure and heart rate and stimulates some chemical messengers in the nervous system. And it is thought these factors may lead to coronary artery disease. But scientists have not understood exactly how this happens.

The answer may be related to receptors on the outside of muscle cells lining coronary arteries, because they control arterial blood flow, according to Columbia University researchers in the Oct. 24 LANCET. Alpha receptors trigger the cells to constrict coronary arteries, and the beta receptors have an opposing effect. In severe type A individuals, chronic alpha-receptor stimulation is predominant, the researchers report. In the calmer, type B individuals, the proportions are reversed.

The recent finding, they suggest, may help scientists understand the mechanism of coronary artery disease. It also could change treatment programs, perhaps by incorporating the monitoring of a patient's ratio of alpha- to beta-receptor stimulation or by developing medications that act on receptor sites.

In the study, Jeffrey P. Kahn and his colleagues used 17 men ranging in age from 22 to 32. All had a family history of coronary artery disease. This was a criterion, Kahn says, because the volunteers would be at higher risk for the disease and also because of the closer correlation between type A behavior and blood-pressure rise as a response to stress among people with a family history. …

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