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Mar 11, 2014

Losing Temper Increases Risk for Heart Attack and Stroke

Outbursts of anger may trigger heart attack or stroke within two hours, according to review of studies.

Losing your temper may put your heart at risk, according to a recent study published in the European Heart Journal.

This paper reviewed seven recent studies that looked at the relationship between anger outbursts and risk for cardiac events, such as heart attack and stroke. Individually, each of the studies included were relatively small but authors hoped that by combing results, they could come to a more meaningful conclusion on the topic.

After analyzing more than 6,000 cardiac events, researchers found that people who lost their temper were nearly five times more likely to have a heart attack within two hours of their outburst, compared to those who kept their cool. Anger outbursts also tripled risk for stroke during the same time period.

What does this mean for those of us with hot tempers? Authors suggest that doctors should always ask patients about their mental health, especially regarding levels of rage and frustration. We know that mental health is closely connected to cardiovascular health, so it’s important to address anger issues before they become a problem. In fact, researchers suggest that medication may help prevent heart attack and stroke in adults with anger problems.

Authors also encourage future research on this intriguing topic. They wonder how anger outbursts impact risk for cardiac events in “healthy” adults compared to those with existing heart conditions. Experts also wonder whether outbursts increase cardiovascular risk more in those with angry or calm temperaments. In other words, they wonder if outbursts are more likely to trigger heart attack or stroke in adults who rarely express anger, since their bodies aren’t used to it. Through additional research, authors hope to gain a better understanding about anger and heart health to help prevent potentially life-threatening cardiac events.

Questions for You to Consider

  • Are mental health and heart health related?
  • Although additional research is needed on the topic, there is a clear link between mental health and cardiovascular health. Many studies have suggested that having a positive attitude or outlook on life may reduce cardiovascular risk, while high stress levels and depression can increase risk for heart disease. As a result, it’s important to work with your doctor on improving both mental and physical health to reduce cardiovascular risk.
  • Why does depression increase risk for stroke?

  • The exact cause of increased risk for stroke with depression is unknown. However, it is clear that there are links between mental health and risk for a variety of health conditions, such as stroke, heart disease and diabetes. It is possible that depression makes the body increasingly susceptible to these conditions, and/or that having a positive mental state helps protect against these negative effects.

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