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Tuesday June 18, 2024

Outburst of anger can cause massive heart attack, research concludes

Anger compromises blood vessel function, raises blood pressure, can easily trigger coronary artery incident

By Web Desk
May 02, 2024
A representational image of a woman clutching at her chest because of pain. —AFP/File
A representational image of a woman clutching at her chest because of pain. —AFP/File

Could an outburst of rage harm your heart? Earlier studies suggest a connection between sudden anger and a seriously higher risk of myocardial infarction or heart attack, which is the number one killer of humans all over the world.

Curious researchers from Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Yale School of Medicine, St. John’s University in New York, and other institutions delved into the underlying mechanisms to put the previous studies to the test.

Their experiment involved deliberately making the participants of a group throw tantrums of anger. They selected 280 healthy young adults and divided them into four groups: a control group tasked with counting aloud for eight minutes to maintain a neutral emotional state, and groups instructed to recall events evoking anger, sadness, or anxiety. Before the experiment and periodically over 100 minutes afterwards, the researchers took blood samples and measured blood flow and pressure.

The results, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, concluded that anger might indeed damage the heart by compromising blood vessel function.

Dr Holly Middlekauff, a cardiologist and professor at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, suggests that these findings had the potential to assist physicians in advising patients with heart disease and anger issues to manage their emotions through yoga, exercise, or cognitive behavioural therapy.

“It’s not widely known or widely accepted that anger does precipitate heart attacks,” said Middlekauff, who wasn’t involved with the study. 

“This study offers a biological plausibility to that theory, that anger is bad for you, that it raises your blood pressure, that we’re seeing impaired vascular health.” And that may get some patients’ attention, she added.