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A new study found that people who thought they were treated unfairly were more likely to suffer a heart attack or chest pain. Those who thought they had experienced the worst injustice were 55% more likely to experience a coronary event than people who thought life was fair, according to a report published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The study, one of the largest and longest of its kind, examined medical data from 6,081 British civil servants. In the early 1990s, they were asked how strongly they agreed with this statement: "I often have the feeling that I am being treated unfairly." Unlike previous studies, the subjects were questioned before they showed any signs of cardiovascular disease. That way, the results weren’t skewed by people who thought life was unfair because they were already sick.

The subjects were tracked for an average of 10.9 years. In that time, 387 either died of a heart attack, were treated for a nonfatal attack or diagnosed with angina. The researchers found that the rate of cardiac events among civil servants who reported "low" levels of unfair treatment was 28% higher than for those who had no complaints. People who reported "moderate" unfairness saw their risk rise by 36%.The study was funded primarily by health agencies in the British and U.S. governments.

(SOURCE: "People Who Feel Wronged Can Really Take It to Heart," Los Angeles Times, 5/15/07, from a sermon by Victor Yap,, "The Calm After the Storm" 6/29/08)

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