Take it easy: Eight minutes of anger per day can increase risk of heart attack says new study

A new study linked as little as ten minutes a day of one particular emotion to an increased likelihood of cardiac events.

The suggested connection between emotional states and risk of heart attacks led researchers from leading institutions, including Columbia University Irving Medical Center, St. John’s University in New York and Yale School of Medicine, to put that theory to the test with nearly 300 young adults.

Though the study ruled out the impact of sadness and anxiety in connection with dilating blood vessels, eight minutes of anger was found to have a measurable impact on some of the 280 participants with no history of heart disease, stroke or other chronic illnesses.

Published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the study led by Dr. Daichi Shimbo, co-director of Columbia’s hypertension center, tasked participants with eight minutes of recalling past experiences that caused anger, anxiety-triggering memories or reading passages that made them sad after 30 minutes of relaxation.

Blood pressure and other cardiac metrics were measured during the control period and under duress leading researchers to find that those tasked with recalling anger-tinged memories were said to experience blood vessel dilation up to 50% within 40 minutes of the assignment.

The same effect did not occur for the sad and anxious, or the control group.

“We showed that if you get angry once, it impairs your ability to dilate,” stated Shimbo who wondered, “But what if you get angry 10,000 times over a lifetime? This chronic insult to your arteries may eventually lead to permanent damage.”

Reacting to the findings, Health Meets Wellness founder Elizabeth Sharp told Fox News Digital, “Anger likely increases cortisol levels, which, in turn, raises blood pressure and could likely decrease vascular dilation.”

“It’s a well-known adage that ‘stress is a killer,’ and there are numerous physiological explanations for this,” added her conjecture as the study did not attempt to determine what mechanism might link the bouts of anger with dilation. “However, I would argue that it’s more about chronic stress, or that a stress response might reveal an underlying condition, such as coronary artery diseases, which was already present.”

Further consideration of the findings was offered by cardiologist Dr. Holly Middlekauff, a professor of medicine and physiology  at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, who told NBC News, “It’s not widely known or widely accepted that anger does precipitate heart attacks.”

“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,” she went on.

Hackensack University Medical Center’s psychiatry department chair Dr. Gary Small offered Fox News Digital suggestions on how to cope with anger, including; recognizing triggers, learning to relax, thinking twice before outbursts, physical activity, communicating needs, professional help and altered ways of thinking. Social media users wondered at the National Institutes of Health-supported study as heart conditions have been on the rise.

Kevin Haggerty


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