The risk of a heart attack is significantly higher when you lose your cool.
According to a study published in the European Heart Journal, people who already have risk factors, such as a history of heart disease, are particularly susceptible.
In the 120 minutes following a fit of anger, the risk of suffering a heart attack increases almost five times and that of a stroke more than three times, according to data from nine studies involving thousands of people.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health have shown that an isolated explosion of rage represents a relatively low risk. According to their calculations, however, if it is an episode of rage per month, one in 10,000 people with little cardiovascular risk would have a heart attack or stroke per year — statistic that increases if they are individuals with high cardiovascular risk, since it would be four for every 10,000 individuals.
Heart attacks are the leading cause of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, and it’s growing; in 1990 this accounted for 12 percent of deaths, in 2013 this figure was close to 17 percent.
A heart attack consists of the death (or necrosis) of part of the tissue of an organ. Generally, necrosis occurs as a result of the obstruction of the artery that irrigates it.
When the necrotic tissue is in the musculature of the heart, it’s called a myocardial infarction. Infarctions can also occur in other organs; besides the heart, the most common are the brain, the kidneys and the intestine.
Cerebral infarctions are known as “cerebrovascular accidents” or “vascular brain accidents.” Among the most relevant factors predisposing someone to the occurrence of heart attacks are the consumption of tobacco and alcohol, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes and high levels of cholesterol. They also occur more frequently in men, in people over 40 years of age, and in those with a family history of cardiovascular disease.
Accumulation of stress
The risk is cumulative, which means that people prone to losing their temper are more likely to suffer an attack after an outburst.
Five fits of anger a day can result in about 158 extra heart attacks for every 10,000 low-risk individuals a year. This figure increases to 657 if we are looking at people prone to cardiovascular problems.
What is clear is that chronic stress can contribute to heart disease, partly because it can increase blood pressure and partly because people can cope with stress in unhealthy ways, two examples of which may be smoking and drinking a lot of alcohol.
The continued practice of physical and cognitive relaxation exercises can help the body stop emitting stress responses at inappropriate times. Scientific research particularly supports the procedures of progressive muscle relaxation and slow and deep breathing. In short: if you value your life, be sure stress and anger management is among your skills.