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article imageTwo emotions which massively increase risk of heart attack

By Stephen Morgan     Mar 9, 2015 in Health
A study by Australian scientists has shown that anger and anxiety increase the likelihood of having a heart attack by a startling amount.
Researchers at the University of Sydney found that the risk of heart attack increases more than eight-fold after a bout of extreme anger and more than nine-fold after a severe anxiety attack. The risk is especially high in the two hours following such extreme emotions compared to the normal risk.
PsychCentral says,
"Investigators designed a well-controlled study in which acute coronary blockage was confirmed in patients hospitalized for suspected heart attack. A self-assessment of angy showed a statistically significant elevated state of anger or anxiety preceding the myocardial infarction (MI, heart attack).
The researchers interviewed 313 patients who had recently suffered a heart attack and asked them about their emotions during the two days preceding it.
PsyBlog quotes the lead author of the study, Dr Thomas Buckley, who said:
“Our findings confirm what has been suggested in prior studies and anecdotal evidence, even in films — that episodes of intense anger can act as a trigger for a heart attack."
"The data shows that the higher risk of a heart attack isn’t necessarily just while you’re angry — it lasts for two hours after the outburst.”
The main culprits stemmed from arguments in the family, others, work or road rage, with family disputes being the highest.
Dr Buckley stated that “The triggers for these burst of intense anger were associated with arguments with family members (29 per cent), argument with others (42 per cent), work anger (14 per cent) and driving anger (14 per cent)."
Subsequent heart attacks were “most likely the result of increased heart rate and blood pressure, tightening of blood vessels, and increased clotting, all associated with triggering of heart attacks,” he said.
The study, which was published in the European Heart Journal: Acute Cardiovascular Care, said that their findings added "to the small but growing body of evidence linking acute emotional triggers with onset of MI (myocardial infarction, or heart attack).”
Dr Buckley suggested that estimating the danger of severe anger and anxiety in patients with heart problems should be part of their treatment, as well as educating them in ways to reduce the occurrences and severity of such emotional extremes.
"“Potential preventive approaches may be stress reduction training to limit the responses of anger and anxiety, or avoiding activities that usually prompt such intense reactions," he said. "And for those at very high risk, one could potentially consider protective medication therapy at the time of or just prior to an episode, a strategy we have shown to be feasible in other studies."
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