This common habit may increase your stroke risk

In a new study, researchers found self-silencing (inhibiting one’s self-expression) is linked to greater carotid plaque buildup which could lead to a stroke and heart problems.

The finding shows expressing true feelings is not only good for mental health, but it could also be important for physical health.

People engage in a range of behaviors to maintain close relationships, some of which may be costly to their own health.

One such behavior is self-silencing, which is sometimes used to avoid conflict or relationship loss.

Although self-silencing has been linked to worse mental and self-reported physical health in women, it has not been previously examined in relation to women’s heart health.

In the new study, the team examined 304 young and old nonsmoking women to see if self-silencing was linked to carotid atherosclerosis.

They found that greater self-silencing was related to increased odds of plaque independent of socio-demographics, heart risk factors, and depression.

The results were based on women’s self-reporting on a range of factors such as how often they expressed anger or put someone else’s needs before their own.

Ultrasound imaging was used to quantify carotid plaque.

The team says women’s socio-emotional expression may be relevant to their cardiovascular health.

These results could encourage healthcare providers to take into consideration socio-emotional factors when outlining a preventive care plan for their patients.

The lead author of the study is Karen Jakubowski, Ph.D. from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh.

The study is presented at The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Annual Meeting.

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