Neuroticism personality traits are linked to adverse cardiovascular phenotypes in the UK Biobank

Eur Heart J Cardiovasc Imaging. 2023 Oct 27;24(11):1460-1467. doi: 10.1093/ehjci/jead166.


Aims: To evaluate the relationship between neuroticism personality traits and cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) measures of cardiac morphology and function, considering potential differential associations in men and women.

Methods and results: The analysis includes 36 309 UK Biobank participants (average age = 63.9 ± 7.7 years; 47.8% men) with CMR available and neuroticism score assessed by the 12-item Eysenck Personality Questionnaire-Revised Short Form. CMR scans were performed on 1.5 Tesla scanners (MAGNETOM Aera, Siemens Healthcare, Erlangen, Germany) according to pre-defined protocols and analysed using automated pipelines. We considered measures of left ventricular (LV) and right ventricular (RV) structure and function, and indicators of arterial compliance. Multivariable linear regression was used to estimate association of neuroticism score with individual CMR metrics, with adjustment for age, sex, obesity, deprivation, smoking, diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia, alcohol use, exercise, and education. Higher neuroticism scores were associated with smaller LV and RV end-diastolic volumes, lower LV mass, greater concentricity (higher LV mass to volume ratio), and higher native T1. Greater neuroticism was also linked to poorer LV and RV function (lower stroke volumes) and greater arterial stiffness. In sex-stratified analyses, the relationships between neuroticism and LV stroke volume, concentricity, and arterial stiffness were attenuated in women. In men, association (with exception of native T1) remained robust.

Conclusion: Greater tendency towards neuroticism personality traits is linked to smaller, poorer functioning ventricles with lower LV mass, higher myocardial fibrosis, and higher arterial stiffness. These relationships are independent of traditional vascular risk factors and are more robust in men than women.

Keywords: cardiac function; cardiac morphology; cardiovascular magnetic resonance; cardiovascular remodelling; mental health; neuroticism.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biological Specimen Banks*
  • Female
  • Heart Ventricles / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Cine / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuroticism
  • Personality
  • Stroke Volume
  • United Kingdom
  • Ventricular Function, Left*