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Anger Outbursts Linked with Higher Heart Disease, Stroke Risk

Mar 04, 2014 10:47 AM EST
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(Photo : REUTERS/Shaun Best )

A new study has found that anger is linked with increased heart disease risk.

The study, conducted by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health, found  that anger outbursts increase heart attack risk by five-fold and stroke risk by three-fold.

The risk was higher for people with pre-existing cardiovascular disease, especially those who frequently lost their temper.

Being cut off in traffic or dealing with annoying co-workers can make even a reasonably calm person fume with rage. Of course, these small anger outbursts won't lead to instant heart attack or stroke.

However, over time, these small outbursts of rage can increase risk of heart attack compared to people who keep calm even during these stressful situations.

"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 Dr. Sripal Bangalore, associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, HealthDay reported. Bangalore wasn't part of the study.

Keep Calm, Stay Healthy                                                                   

For the study, researchers at Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit at Harvard Medical School analyzed data from nine studies conducted between 1966 and 2013, which included over 4,500 cases of heart attack and more than 800 cases of stroke, HealthDay reported.

Researchers found that two hours post an anger outburst, the risk of heart attack increased by five times and risk of stroke rose three-fold, according to BBC.

"It is important to recognise that outbursts of anger are associated with higher risk of heart attacks, stroke and arrhythmia. If clinicians ask patients about their usual levels of anger and find that it is relatively high, they may want to consider suggesting either psychosocial or pharmacologic interventions," said Dr Murray Mittleman at Harvard Medical School, lead author of the study, according to a news release.

Further research is needed to find whether drugs or other kind of therapies can lower heart attack risk by reducing anger levels, study authors said.

The study is published in the European Heart Journal.

Previous research has shown that anger can increase blood pressure and anxiety. There are several ways to manage anger, including  listening to music and exercise.

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