Study Finds Connection Between Anger and Heart Attack Risk


Previous scientific studies have suggested that there might be a connection between feelings of anger and an increased risk of heart attack. Now, some new research seems to illuminate why that is. 

Researchers from various U.S. universities came together to find an answer. Their findings were published May 1 in the Journal of the American Heart Association. To reach their conclusions, the team took 280 healthy young adults and separated them into groups—a control group that remained neutral by counting out loud for eight minutes as well as groups that remembered certain events that made them angry, sad, or anxious

In the end, the scientists found that blood vessels’ ability to dilate was notably lower among those in the angry group compared to the control group. Vasodilation wasn’t affected in the sadness and anxiety cohorts. 

Endothelial cells that line the insides of blood vessels can regulate vasodilation depending on which body parts need more blood flow at any given time. Further tests done by the scientists found that the subjects didn’t experience any damage to endothelial cells or to the body’s ability to repair any endothelial cell damage, just to their vessels’ ability to widen. Blood vessels’ inability to dilate can be an early indicator of atherosclerosis, or the buildup of plaque in artery walls, which can lead to heart attack, coronary heart disease, stroke, and kidney disorders. “A brief provocation of anger adversely affected endothelial cell health by impairing endothelium‐dependent vasodilation,” the authors wrote in the study. 

“That is why endothelium-dependent vasodilation is an important mechanism to study,” study co-author Andrea Duran told NBC News

Related: There’s a New Way to Lower Your Risk for Cardiovascular Disease: Take a Bath

The researchers suggested a number of possible cause for vessels’ inability to dilate in angry people. It could be a combination of reasons such as changes caused by stress hormones, increased inflammation, and activation of the autonomic nervous system. 

While the new research is enlightening, more work needs to be done to find more answers, such as exactly how anger impairs blood vessel dilation. This study was also limited in scope with the participants being young health adults, so there’s not much information on how anger affects vasodilation in people with cardiovascular disease and diabetes as well as those living in rural areas and many ethnic and racial minorities. “That would be for a future study,” she said. 

Plus, the study only looked at vasodilation in people experiencing short bursts of anger as opposed to chronic anger. “If you’re a person who gets angry all the time, you’re having chronic injuries to your blood vessels,” study lead Daichi Shimbo said in a statement. “It’s these chronic injuries over time that may eventually cause irreversible effects on vascular health and eventually increase your heart disease risk.”

It’s probably best for your health to keep cool as much as possible. 

You Might Also Like