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Angry Outbursts Increase Risk of Heart Attack

Update Date: Mar 04, 2014 09:29 AM EST

The next time someone upsets you, it might be better to take a step back and breathe instead of letting your temper get the better of you. According to a new study, people who have angry outbursts also have a higher risk of suffering from a heart attack. The researchers found that this increased risk occurred during the two hours after an outburst.

"It is not surprising that such an association is seen since we know that anger is associated with increased reaction of the body's nervous system to stress," said an expert, Dr. Sripal Bangalore, associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, according to Philly.

For this study, the researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health reviewed nine studies conducted on heart attack risks between 1966 and 2013. There were a total of 4,500 cases of heart attacks, 462 cases of acute coronary syndrome, more than 300 cases of heart rhythm complications and over 800 cases of stroke. The researchers calculated that within two hours after an outburst, the individual's risk of heart attack or acute coronary syndrome and stroke increased by five and four times respectively. The individual's risk of a fatal heart rhythm disorder also increased.

The researchers estimated that five angry episodes per day would lead to an extra 158 heart attacks for every 10,000 people who have a low heart risk per year. For individuals with a high cardiovascular risk, an additional five episodes would add 657 extra heart attacks per 10,000 people per year. The researchers added that people who have more angry outbursts had higher risks of cardiovascular problems and stroke.

"Although the risk of experiencing an acute cardiovascular event with any single outburst of anger is relatively low, the risk can accumulate for people with frequent episodes of anger," Dr. Elizabeth Mostofsky said according to BBC News.

The researchers cautioned that overall risk, which was calculated on a population level, was extremely small. For people who have a high-risk of cardiovascular problems, one angry episode per month could result in four additional heart attacks per 10,000 people per year. For individuals with a low-risk, the incidence fell to one extra heart attack per 10,000 people each year.

Although the researchers could not specifically identify why angry outbursts increase heart attack risk, they reasoned that people who have angry outburst tend to be more stressed and higher stress levels have been tied to heart disease. The researchers stated that people with high stress levels could benefit from taking stress management classes. People could also participate in stress relieving activities such as yoga.

The study was published in the European Heart Journal.

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