It is known that people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or those who are overweight or smoke will have a higher risk for cardiovascular disease. A new study done at Harvard Medical School shows that people who have a tendency to blow up when they get angry, will have an even greater chance of suffering from a stroke or heart attack. Dr. Murray A. Mittleman’s (associate professor of medicine at Harvard) medical research suggests the 2 hours following an angry outburst is the danger zone.
It turns out that there’s one more reason to remain calm in stressful situations, especially for those with pre-existing cardiovascular disease or heart disease, “the absolute risk they are incurring is much greater than (that of) a person without cardiovascular disease or risk factors,” Mittleman says.
The study was based on comparisons against an individual’s own baseline risk. For those who are at increased risk for stroke and heart disease, getting angry a few times daily can lead to 650 more heart attacks per year out of 10,000 per year. For those who are considered low risk, but still do tend to get angry quite frequently, only an extra 150 heart attacks out of 10,000 per year may occur, according to Dr Elizabeth Mostofsky and her colleagues.
After looking over nine research studies linking self-reported outbursts of anger and cardiovascular events, a new study was published in the European Heart Journal. The analysis of all the data showed a 4.74 greater risk of heart attack, myocardial infarction and acute coronary syndrome occurring for those after enduring a surge of rage.
Dr. Mariell Jessup, president of the American Heart Association explains that anger causes an elevation in stress hormones and of one’s heart rate through the sympathetic nervous system. Hyperventilation “may trigger undesirable reactions in our blood pressure or in our arteries.” she says. This all leads to not getting enough blood and oxygen to one’s heart or brain resulting in a higher risk of heart attack or stroke. More medical research still needs to be done involving the assessment of the health of angry people. Chronic stress among many suggests a rapidly growing trend in North America and it is estimated 17 million people die of cardiovascular diseases every year worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The risks are still calculated as being fairly low for experiencing a heart attack or stroke after any one burst or rage however “the risk can accumulate for people with frequent episodes of anger.” Says Dr Mostofsky. The researchers at Harvard see a correlation yet they are still unclear what other factors may play a role during these specific cardiovascular events.
The American Heart Association recommends regular physical activity as well as finding a way to cope with stress and anger. Having a good support system of family or friends to talk with is important they say.
Anyone experiencing being angry too often will say it has taken a toll on their body and minds. If people are afraid their higher level of stress has reached a dangerous point, it is important for them to seek the advice of a medical professional. Research shows eating right and exercising will lower one’s risk dramatically. Not smoking will also help to ward off stroke or heart attack, suggests Mittleman.
By Katie Sevigny