Intense anger can affect your heart, in ways you’ve probably not contemplated.
Now we have a newly published study confirming what physicians and some patients have suspected for years – that getting very angry is bad for a person’s heart.
The study, published in February in the European Heart Journal: Acute Cardiovascular Care, found that intense anger can affect your heart, AND that extreme anger can be a trigger for myocardial infarction (the death of heart muscle) commonly known as a heart attack.
The study stresses the importance and needs for physicians and other clinicians to look for ways to help patients at risk of having a heart attack, to find ways to control stress and anger, along with other risk factors.
Cleveland Clinic cardiologist, Dr. Rimmerman states:
“This study is very helpful in many ways because it’s validating to what we already know. Anger is not what we would call a traditional risk factor because it’s so hard to measure.”
However, it highlights how important it is to pay attention to a patient’s emotional well-being, along with their physical needs.
It’s time for all physicians (not just Cardiologists) to put this into practice.
The study of how intense anger can affect your heart began with an investigation of patients suspected of a heart attack.
The patients had been admitted for primary angioplasty (surgical repair or unblocking of a blood vessel, especially a coronary artery) at a hospital in Sydney, Australia, between 2006 and 2012.
- Out of 687 patients initially assessed, 313 were confirmed with blocked coronary arteries (the arteries that surround and supply the heart) and were enrolled in the study.
To assess the patients’ anger levels each was given a questionnaire asking them to rate their anger on a scale of 1 to 7.
- 1 equaled “feeling calm” and 7 feeling “enraged, out of control, throwing objects, hurting yourself or others.”
The study considered a 5 (“very angry, body tense, maybe fists clenched, ready to burst”) as acute anger (severe or intense degree).
- The results showed that patients have an 8.5 times higher risk of a heart attack in the two hours after an acute episode of anger.
It found that the patients’ levels of anger or anxiety before the heart attack were much higher when they were hospitalized for their heart attack than they had been at the same time the day before.
In the study’s analysis of how intense anger can affect your heart, patients who were angry within 2 hours before the onset of their heart attack symptoms were compared with the patients’ normal exposure to anger.
An anger level of greater than or equal to 5 was reported by 2.2% of the study participants within 2 hours of the heart attack.
Compared with their usual frequency of angry episodes, the risk of the heart attack symptoms occurring within 2 hours of anger at level 5 or more was 95%.
- Arguments with family members or others topped the list of events that prompted the patients’ heart attacks.
- This was followed by anger related to work or while driving…
Not only are these findings important to physicians for helping their patients handle stress and anger better, but it could give insight into how to prevent heart attacks during acute emotional times in a patient’s life.
The investigators concluded that these findings also coincide with an increased acceptance of the role of psychological factors, both acute and chronic, in the onset of heart attacks, sudden cardiac deaths, and strokes. and “are consistent with earlier reports in other populations.”
Unlike most earlier studies, however, this one confirmed by angiography (X-ray) that the subjects had indeed suffered a heart attack.
What it means to you, the potential patient is that considering your emotional health to be as important as your physical health should be your priority.