Brief anger attacks linked to heart attacks and stroke risk – Deseret News

Prone to explosion? You may want to keep an eye on it. A new study says getting angry, even briefly, causes blood vessels to constrict, raising blood pressure and increasing the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

In the Columbia University-led study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, 280 adult volunteers were randomly assigned to different eight-minute experiences that create one of three emotions: anger, anxiety or sadness. In the neutral emotion control group, participants were asked to count to 100 over and over again for the duration of the experiment.

Only anger provoked that physical response.

It’s not entirely surprising, the researchers told Medical News Today, noting that “‘raising blood pressure'” is an idiom for getting angry.

The researchers measured each volunteer’s blood vessel dilation, ability to repair cells, and other cellular functions before, during, and after the emotion-eliciting experience. Those who were angry had their blood vessels constricted for up to 40 minutes after experiencing the emotion. In a news release, the American Heart Association said that when the ability of blood vessels to relax is impaired, it can cause atherosclerosis, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Atherosclerosis is the thickening or hardening of the arteries, caused by the buildup of plaques in the artery, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. High blood pressure is one of the risk factors.

“Impaired vascular function is linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke,” said the study’s senior author, Dr. Daichi Shimbo, a professor of medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City. York. “Observational studies have linked feelings of negative emotions to heart attack or other cardiovascular diseases. The most common negative emotion studied is anger, and there are fewer studies on anxiety and sadness, which have also been linked to heart attack risk.”

Shimbo said studying why anger changes blood vessel function could help target treatments toward those at higher risk for cardiovascular events.

“This study adds nicely to the growing evidence base that mental well-being can impact cardiovascular health and that acute and intense emotional states, such as anger or stress, can lead to cardiovascular events,” said Dr. Glenn. Levine, professor of medicine at Baylor. Faculty of Medicine and chief of cardiology at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, both in Houston, cited in the news release.

“For example, we know that intense sadness or similar emotions are a common trigger for Takatsubo cardiomyopathy, and events such as earthquakes or even being a fan watching a world football match, which cause stress, can lead to myocardial infarction and/or arrhythmias. . This current study shows very eloquently how anger can negatively impact the health and function of the vascular endothelium, and we know that the vascular endothelium, the lining of blood vessels, is a key player in myocardial ischemia and atherosclerotic heart disease Levine said.

Dr. Holly Middlekauff, a cardiologist and professor of medicine and physiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, who was not part of the study, told NBC News that the study could help doctors persuade patients with heart disease and anger problems to find tools. to manage your anger. She suggested that yoga, exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy or other established techniques could help.

“It is not widely known or accepted that anger precipitates heart attacks,” he said. “This study offers biological plausibility to that theory, that anger is bad for your health, that it raises blood pressure, that we’re seeing a decline in vascular health.”

Study nuts and bolts

The team of researchers came from Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Yale School of Medicine and St. John’s University.

Study participants had an average age of 26 years and had no history of heart-related problems, type 2 diabetes, or a self-reported mental health disorder. They were not taking prescription medications or nutritional supplements. And they weren’t smokers.

Before the emotional tasks, they sat them down comfortably and told them to just relax for half an hour, but they were told not to talk, use their phones, read anything, or take a nap. Their blood pressure and heart rate were then measured, as was their blood pressure. Blood samples were taken. Measurements were also taken after the emotional task at certain points: three minutes, 40 minutes, 70 minutes, and 100 minutes.

The researchers noted several limitations of the study, including the fact that the participants were young and apparently healthy, so it is unclear whether the findings would be the same for older adults, who may also be taking medications. The study was also conducted in a medical setting, not the real world. And only the short-term effects of emotions were examined.