Being angry for just 8 minutes could increase risk of a heart attack

NEW SCIENTIST – Getting angry – even for just a few minutes – can change the functioning of your blood vessels, which may make heart attacks and strokes more likely.

The finding could explain why some people experience these events during emotional outbursts.

This result comes from a study in young adults who seemed to be in good health.

The participants were asked to think about past experiences that made them angry while various aspects of their circulatory health were measured.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, none of them had a heart attack or stroke during this process, but they did experience impaired blood vessel functioning that has been linked to such outcomes.

“The effects of anger on blood vessel functioning fit with observations that heart attacks occasionally seem to be triggered by intense emotions.”

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This suggests that intense emotions could contribute to cardiac events in people who already have poor health, says Daichi Shimbo at Columbia University in New York.

Other kinds of research have suggested that heart attacks can be triggered by intense emotional experiences.

For instance, one study found that in the hour before a heart attack, people were more than twice as likely to have experienced anger or emotional upset as during the same hour-long period the previous day. But the mechanism behind this remained unclear.

To investigate, Shimbo and his colleagues took 280 volunteers and randomly assigned them to undergo one of three different experiences that induce either anger, anxiety or sadness for 8 minutes, or just to count upwards until the time had elapsed as a comparison, while various measurements were taken …


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