So, just how much do you think intense feelings of anger or anxiety might increase your risk of having a heart attack? Double the risk? Triple? Oh, it’s way more.
A study published the European Heart Journal has found that a bout of intense anger will increase your risk of heart attack by 8.5 times. Anxiety is even worse, at an increased risk of 9.5 times. And get this—the effect lasts for at least two hours after the intense emotion.
Researchers interviewed 313 heart attack patients about any intense emotions they’d felt prior to their heart attack. And in case you’re wondering what intense means, anything rated five or above on a scale of one to seven counted. On this scale, five meant “very angry, body tense, clenching fists or teeth, ready to burst”, while seven meant “enraged, out of control, throwing objects”.
So what happened that got these heart attack patients so angry or anxious? Well, 29% had been arguing with family, 42% had been arguing with others, 14% were angry about work, and another 14% were angry about driving.
So what’s happening? Well, anger or anxiety will cause an increase in blood pressure, increased heart rate, and a greater risk of clots. Of course, it’s likely that these people had other heart attack risk factors present, like obesity, poor diet, not enough fibre, high blood pressure, smoking, and more. But that said, if you’ve experienced object-throwing anger over someone else’s bad driving, it’s time to get help.