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Lancet. 1996 Feb 17;347(8999):417-21.

Personality as independent predictor of long-term mortality in patients with coronary heart disease.

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  • 1University Hospital of Antwerp, Belgium.



Emotional distress has been related to mortality in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD), but little is known about the role of personality in long-term prognosis. We postulated that type-D personality (the tendency to suppress emotional distress) was a predictor of long-term mortality in CHD, independently of established biomedical risk factors.


We studied 268 men and 35 women with angiographically documented CHD, aged 31-79 years, who were taking part in an outpatient rehabilitation programme. All patients completed personality questionnaire at entry to the programme. We contacted them 6-10 years later (mean 7-9) to find out survival status. The main endpoint was death from all causes.


At follow-up, 38 patients had died; there were 24 cardiac deaths. The rate of death was higher for type-D patients than for those without type-D (23 [27%]/85 vs 15 [7%]/218; p < 0.00001). The association between type-D personality and mortality was still evident more than 5 years after the coronary event and was found in both men and women. Mortality was also associated with impaired left ventricular function, three-vessel disease, low exercise tolerance, and the lack of thrombolytic therapy after myocardial infarction. When we controlled for these biomedical predictors in multiple logistic regression analysis, the impact of type-D remained significant (odds ratio 4.1 [95% CI 1.9-8.8]; p = 0.0004). In this group of CHD patients, type-D was an independent predictor of both cardiac and non-cardiac mortality. Social alienation and depression were also related to mortality, but did not add to the predictive power of type-D.


We found that type-D personality was a significant predictor of long-term mortality in patients with established CHD, independently of biomedical risk factors. Personality traits should be taken into account in the association between emotional distress and mortality in CHD.

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