Angry outbursts bad for the heart

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Recent research confirms something that is intuitively obvious outbursts of extreme anger are associated with acute myocardial infarctions (AMI, or acute heart attacks). The current study, led by E. Mostofsky and colleagues from the Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, analyzed data from nearly 3,900 patients while they were hospitalized with AMI. Interviews were conducted between 1989 and 1996.

Both the number and intensity of anger outbursts in the 2 hours before the AMIs occurred were compared with the expected frequency of AMI, based on each patient s angry outbursts during the preceding year. Researchers found that the rate of AMI occurrence was elevated over 2.4 fold within 2 hours of the angry outbursts. In addition, the association was consistently stronger with more intense anger.

However, patients who were using B-blocker drugs, which reduce the heart s reaction to emotional stimuli, seemed to have a lower susceptibility to heart attacks that were triggered by anger.

While this type of retrospective study can t prove a causal connection, commented ACSH s Dr. Gil Ross, it suggests that people susceptible to heart attack and extreme emotion may consider the use of such pharmaceuticals to potentially help avoid MIs triggered by such emotions.