The role anger plays in your risk for heart attack

Many have said that emotions can hinder your health. Now, a study has been able to prove that a specific emotion can in fact do so. That emotion? Anger.

Many have said that emotions can hinder your health. Now, a study has been able to prove that a specific emotion can in fact do so. That emotion? Anger.

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The American Heart Association shared findings of new research on Wednesday in the Journal of American Heart Association that explains how anger can possibly contribute to your risk for a heart attack.

The study had 280 healthy adults involved, according to The Washington Post. They were each assigned at random a different task that was set up in order to pull their emotions out like anger, anxiety, sadness or feeling neutral. Before the study, their endothelial cells and cardiovascular functions as well as health were checked.

The study led researchers to learn that anger harms the function of the endothelial cells, which are cells that line the inside of the blood vessels, according to the Post. Anger caused a limit on the blood vessels’ ability to dilate.

This can cause atherosclerosis, which is when plaque builds up on artery walls, making those arteries stiff, NBC News reported. This can lead to coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke and kidney issues.

“Anger is bad for your blood vessel function,” said lead study author Dr. Daichi Shimbo, a cardiologist and co-director of the hypertension center at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City. “It impairs the function of your arteries, which is linked to future heart attack risk.”

The point of the study is so that doctors are able to talk to their patients who have anger issues and heart disease early on so they can manage it. Ways to do that an be through things like yoga, exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy or other established techniques, said Dr. Holly Middlekauff, a cardiologist and a professor of medicine and physiology at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, according to NBC News.

“It’s not widely known or widely accepted that anger does precipitate heart attacks,” said Middlekauff, according to NBC News. “This study offers a biological plausibility to that theory, that anger is bad for you, that it raises your blood pressure, that we’re seeing impaired vascular health.” Middlekauff was not involved in the study but hopes that it will get the attention of patients.

“We showed that if you get angry once, it impairs your ability to dilate,” said Shimbo, according to the American Heart Association. “But what if you get angry 10,000 times over a lifetime? This chronic insult to your arteries eventually may lead to permanent damage. That’s what we think is going on.”

“People lump negative emotions into one bucket,” Shimbo said. “This tells me that maybe anger, anxiety and sadness are different from each other in how they affect heart risk.”

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