Psychology and Physical Health
Lifestyle and stress play a much larger role in the development of chronic diseases than they do
in contagious diseases. Today, the three leading chronic diseases (heart disease, cancer, and
stroke) account for almost 60% of all deaths in the US.
The biopsychosocial model holds that physical illness is caused by a complex interaction of
biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors.
Health psychology is concerned with how psychosocial factors relate to the promotion and
maintenance of health and with the causation, prevention, and treatment of illness.
Stress, Personality, and Illness
An individual who is chronically grumpy, often hostile toward others, and routinely frustrated is
more likely to develop an illness and perhaps even to die earlier than someone who is
emotionally open, who is friendly, and who leads a balanced life.
Personality, Emotions, and Heart Disease:
Coronary heart disease results from a reduction in blood flow through the coronary arteries,
which supply the heart with blood. This disease causes about 90% of heart related deaths.
Artherosclerosis is the primary cause of coronary disease. Artherosclerosis is a gradual
narrowing of the coronary artieries, usually caused by a buildup of fatty deposits.
Myocardial ischema is when the heart is temporarily deprived adequate blood flow and results
in chest pain called angina. When the coronary artery is blocked completely it is called a
myocardial infarction and this interruption can cause a heart attack.
- When women reach menopause around age 50, they have a higher risk of heart disease
Hostility and Coronary Risk
Connection between coronary risk and a pattern of behaviour they called the Type A personality,
which involves self-imposed stress and intense reactions to stress.
Type A Personality includes three elements: (1) a strong competitive orientation, (2) impatience
and time urgency, and (3) anger and hostility. A’s are ambitious, hard-driving perfectionists who
are exceedingly time conscious.
Type B Personality is marked relatively relax, patient, easygoing, ambical behaviour. B’s are
less hurried, less competitive, and less easily angered.
- Researchers have found a stronger link between personality and coronary risk by
focusing on a specific component of the type A, anger and hostility.
Hostility refers to a persistent negative attitude marked by cynical, mistrusting thoughts,
feelings of anger, and overtly aggressive actions.
- There is also evidence that hostility plays a greater role in cardiovascular risk for blacks
than for whites.
Frequent ups and downs in heart rate and blood pressure may create wear and tear in their
cardiovascular system. One explanation is emotional reactions to experiences of discrimination.
Second, hostile people probably create additio