Risk is higher in people who get angry often and have prior heart trouble
When things go bad, remain calm. At least, that’s the advice from a new study that found angry outbursts could raise the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
In the study, researchers looked at data from nine studies conducted between 1966 and 2013 that included more than 4,500 cases of heart attack, 462 cases of acute coronary syndrome, more than 800 cases of stroke and more than 300 cases of heart rhythm problems.
Within two hours of an angry outburst, the risk of heart attack increased nearly five-fold and the risk of stroke rose nearly four-fold. The risk was highest in people who got angry more often and had existing risk factors such as prior heart problems.
“Although the risk of experiencing an acute event with any single outburst of anger is relatively low, the risk can accumulate for people with frequent episodes of anger,” said Elizabeth Mostofsky, an instructor at the Harvard School of Public Health and study lead. “This is particularly important for people who have higher risk due to other underlying risk factors or those who have already had a heart attack, stroke or diabetes.”
Researchers found that among people who had five bouts of anger a day, there were about 158 extra heart attacks per 10,000 people each year among those with low heart risk, and 657 extra heart attacks among those with high heart risk.
The findings don’t say anger causes heart attacks and other heart events, only that there is an association between them. But the findings were consistent across all of the studies included in the review.