Uncontrolled anger may increase heart attack risk: study

May 22, 2013

Boston – Outbursts of rage may increase a person’s risk of heart attack, according to a study from the Harvard Medical School.

Researchers analyzed data on 3,886 patients hospitalized for a heart attack between 1989 and 1996. Almost 40 percent of the patients reported experiencing an outburst of anger in the previous year, and 110 of those had their heart attack within two hours of the episode, the study abstract states.

The intensity of anger was rated on a scale of moderate anger (clenched fists and teeth) to being enraged to the point of losing control. Patients who had an angry outburst were more than twice as likely to have a heart attack, with the risk being even higher for people with more intense anger.

However, researchers noted the risk of heart attack was lower for angry people taking beta blockers, a type of medication used to treat high blood pressure. One suggestion included in the study is for doctors to prescribe beta blockers to people at high risk of anger and heart attacks as a preventive measure.

The study was published online May 2 in the American Journal of Cardiology.