Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 27th 2015 Contents A28
body & soul
Guardian www.Guardian.co.tt Friday, February 27, 2015
It s a universal truth---anger sure
doesn t feel good. And according to
new research, an angry outburst could
also come with a pretty serious health
The study, published in the European
Heart Journal: Acute Cardiovascular
Care, shows that heart attack risk is 8.5
times higher in the two hours after a
bout of extreme anger, compared with
during general, common patterns of
everyday angry feelings.
Researchers tracked patients admitted
to Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney,
Australia, for primary angioplasty (a
procedure to open blocked blood vessels
after a heart attack) between 2006 and
2012. Of the 687 patients originally sus-
pected to have experienced a heart
attack, 313 were confirmed and included
in the study analysis.
Through a questionnaire answered
by the participants, anger was assessed
on an individual basis on a seven-point
scale---one was considered "calm,"
whereas seven was considered "enraged,
out of control, throwing objects, hurting
yourself or others."
Using personal judgment, patients
indicated where they fell on the scale.
Researchers considered level five or
above an episode of acute anger, mean-
ing "very angry, body tense, maybe fists
clenched, ready to burst."
Of the 313 cases of heart attack
assessed in the hospital, seven followed
a bout of acute anger that occurred
within two hours of the heart attack.
An additional person had reached level-
five anger within four hours of the car-
diac episode. Level-four anger was noted
in two participants within two hours
and three participants within four hours.
Taking each participant s usual anger
frequency into account, the researchers
determined that the odds of heart attack
symptoms within two hours of a level-
five anger (or greater) episode was
roughly eight times higher than the risk
associated with those normal, garden-
variety anger levels.
This is a significant finding that may
lead us to better understand predictors
of heart attack, according to study
author Thomas Buckley, PhD, a senior
lecturer and researcher at the University
of Sydney and Royal North Shore Hos-
"This indicates that the episodes of
anger were not just coincidental but
associated with triggering the myocardial
infarction," or heart attack, he tells Yahoo
"This risk lasts for two hours after
anger and there was no association with
lower levels of anger and myocardial
Why is anger so dangerous?
These findings add to previous
research showing anger s negative
impact on overall health and well-being.
A March 2014 study from the Harvard
School of Public Health showed anger
increases heart attack and stroke risk.
According to the researchers, five bouts
of anger a day would end in an extra
158 annual heart attacks per 10,000
people at low risk of heart issues, and
657 extra episodes per 10,000 people
at high risk.
So, what is anger s role in increased
risk of these events? "Anger results in
changes to heart rate and blood pressure,
as well as additional inflammatory
markers and activation of the clotting
system, all of which are associated with
onset of heart attack," says Buckley.
"Most heart attacks are secondary to
a blood clot in the coronary artery, and
this usually occurs after rupture of a
plaque in the artery. So, these physio-
logical changes associated with anger
are likely to contribute to this plaque
becoming unstable and rupturing, with
blood clots blocking the artery."
For doctors and patients alike, Buckley
says the takeaway is recognising that
emotional distress leaves you vulnerable
to heart-related incidents.
"While the absolute risk of a heart
attack for one given episode of anger
is still quite low, the risk still exists," he
"This information is also most impor-
tant for those with existing cardiac risk
factors, and individuals should work
with their health care provider to reduce
modifiable risk factors and take strategies
to avoid anger situations when possible."
Anger is a modifiable risk factor that
leaves you vulnerable not just to heart
attack and stroke but to other condi-
tions, as well. For instance, a 2013 study
published in JAMA Psychiatry, showed
that anger and irritability were associated
with more severe depression issues,
higher substance abuse incidence, anx-
iety disorder, and overall lower life sat-
How to get your
anger under control
The trick is to prevent anger, anxiety,
and stress whenever possible, says Buck-
ley. If you re constantly on edge, stress-
reduction therapy and avoiding situa-
tions where confrontation is likely may
be your best bet.
"Some other strategies are listing
things that can trigger your anger, learn-
ing to control your thinking, and avoid-
ing the exaggeration of an event,"he
"Before, during and after something
stressful, take time out, use distraction,
use relaxation, learn assertiveness skills,
and acknowledge the thing that is mak-
ing you angry."
Letting your frustrations out con-
structively---without acting out---may
seem easier said than done. But if you
do learn the tools, your body will thank
The scary thing anger does to your heart
risk is 8.5
in the two
hours after a
"Anger results in
changes to heart
rate and blood
pressure, as well as
activation of the
clotting system, all
of which are
onset of heart
University of Sydney
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
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