Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 35-44

First online:

Anger is associated with subclinical atherosclerosis in low SES but not in higher SES men and women. The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study

  • Päivi MerjonenAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Helsinki
  • , Laura Pulkki-RåbackAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Helsinki
  • , Sampsa PuttonenAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of HelsinkiFinnish Institute of Occupational Health
  • , Pertti KeskivaaraAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Helsinki
  • , Markus JuonalaAffiliated withThe Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Turku
  • , Risto TelamaAffiliated withLIKES Research Center
  • , Jorma ViikariAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, University of Turku
  • , Olli T. RaitakariAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical Physiology, University of Turku
  • , Liisa Keltikangas-JärvinenAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Helsinki Email author 

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We investigated the associations of anger and cynicism with carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) and whether these associations were moderated by childhood or adulthood socioeconomic status (SES). The participants were 647 men and 893 women derived from the population-based Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study. Childhood SES was measured in 1980 when the participants were aged 3–18. In 2001, adulthood SES, anger, cynicism, and IMT were measured. There were no associations between anger or cynicism and IMT in the entire population, but anger was associated with thicker IMT in participants who had experienced low SES in childhood. This association persisted after adjustment for a host of cardiovascular risk factors. It is concluded that the ill health-effects of psychological factors such as anger may be more pronounced in individuals who have been exposed to adverse socioeconomic circumstances early in life.


Atherosclerosis Intima-media thickness (IMT) Cynicism Anger Hostility Socioeconomic status (SES)