Intense anger raises heart attack risk

Being angry isn’t good for your heart. No surprises there, but a new study in Australia found the risk of heart attack increases by 8.5 times two hours following an incident of extreme anger.  The researchers also found that high levels of anxiety can increase your risk even more—by up to 9.5 times. The findings were published in European Heart Journal: Acute Cardiovascular Care.

Researchers analyzed 313 heart attack patients from Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, Australia, from 2006 to 2012. Once on the road to recovery, the patients answered a questionnaire about their feelings 48 hours before their heart attack occurred. The questionnaire had a seven-point scale and ranged from “calm” to “enraged, out of control, throwing objects, hurting yourself and others.” They also reported what triggered their anger, whether it was a fight, work or traffic.

Seven of the participants recorded acute level of anger within two hours before their heart attack symptoms.  One person reported acute level of anger four hours before their heart attack symptoms. Five people reportedly feeling mildly angry within two to four hours before their heart attack symptoms.

The study noted increase in stress and anxiety can cause an increase in blood pressure, tightening blood vessels, and increased clotting, which are all associated with heart attack symptoms. The researchers noted that having one episode of anger is highly unlikely to trigger a heart attack; however, this study supports previous findings that stress and anxiety can affect the heart and a person’s health.

The idea that psychological factors play a role in heart problems is increasingly gaining acceptance among researchers, the study said. The new findings are consistent with previous research, but unlike many of those earlier studies, the researchers of the new findings verified that all of the study's participants did, in fact, have heart attacks.

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