Avoiding conflict at work doubles heart risk: study

New Swedish research shows that men with pent-up frustrations about perceived workplace injustices run twice the risk of suffering a heart attack.

Those who express their feelings openly, for example by getting angry, have no increased risk of heart problems, said the study which warned of the dangers of “covert coping.”

“Covert coping is strongly related to increased risk of hard-endpoint cardiovascular disease,” said the study, published in the UK in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The research, led by experts at the Stress Research Unit at Stockholm University, grouped men according to how they react to conflict, including by saying nothing, walking away, or taking their anger out at home later.

Men who sometimes or always walked away from conflict had three times the risk of a heart attack or dying from heart disease, while overall those who avoided conflict had twice as high a risk.

In contrast those who reacted to unfair treatment in an open way, such as talking directly to the person with whom they were in conflict or getting angry, had no increased risk of heart attack, it said.

“We all find different things stressful and symptoms of stress can vary,” said Judy O’Sullivan, senior cardiac nurse for the British Heart Foundation, responding to the study.

“But the important thing is that we need to find ways of coping with it in our lives in a positive way, whether at work or home,” she added.

The average age of the more than 2,700 participants was 41 at the start of the study. None had had a heart attack when screening started in 1992. But by 2003, 47 had suffered a heart attack or died from heart disease.

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Oslo church wants to remove 22 July memorial

Oslo's church council has been attacked for attempting to remove a sculpture commemorating the victims of Anders Breivik's 2011 twin terror attacks.

Oslo church wants to remove 22 July memorial
The Oslo church council is adamant that the heart must eventually be removed. Photo: Oslo Church

The sculpture, a heart with the inscription '…greatest of all is love', stands in a park outside Oslo Cathedral.

It is the only memorial to the bombing of the government quarters and the Utøya massacre in Oslo and a place of remembrance for many who were affected by the attacks.

Lisbeth Kristine Røyneland, chairman of a support group for victims of the attack, is shocked by the news that the council planned to remove the sculpture.

“I think it is very strange, especially considering that we don't have an official memorial in Oslo yet. The heart should remain,” Røyneland told Norway's Dagbladet newspaper.

“When I am in that part of the city, I often visit the heart. It is an important place for all who were affected by the terror on 22 July.”

In a letter to the artist Espen Hilde, who made the heart shortly after the attacks in 2011, the church council said that it must be removed immediately.

“We have started work on improving the park, and a permanent 'memorial sculpture' is is not appropriate in the park,” the council wrote, giving him a deadline of 1 September to remove the work. 

After a protest from the artist and others, the council has agreed to leave the sculpture standing for now.

“The heart will not be removed on Tuesday this week. The artist has said that he won't do it and and we have taken note of that. The heart will stay for a little while longer, maybe a year. That's OK with us,” Robert Wright, a member of the council, told Dagbladet.  “But it cannot be there forever. We are very clear about that.”

Labour Party youth leader Mani Hussaini said he hoped the sculpture could stay.

“I don't know the details of the plan to develop the park at the Cathedral, but I hope that the sculpture can stay there in future. If the sculpture is removed I hope it can be placed somewhere else so that people can continue to put down flowers and light candles.”