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Angry outbursts may raise heart attack, stroke risk
March 3rd, 2014
08:45 PM ET

Angry outbursts may raise heart attack, stroke risk

Getting really angry might be more dangerous than you think.

A new study found people who experienced severe anger outbursts were more at risk for cardiovascular events in the two hours following the outbursts compared to those who remained calm.

"The relative risk was similar for people who had known pre-existing heart disease and those who didn't," says Dr. Murray A. Mittleman, senior study author and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The study was designed so that each patient was compared to his or her own baseline risk. "A person with pre-existing heart disease or cardiovascular disease, the absolute risk they are incurring is much greater than (that of) a person without cardiovascular disease or risk factors," Mittleman says.

"If we look at somebody at higher risk for having cardiovascular events, and they get angry multiple times a day, this can lead to 650 extra heart attacks per year out of 10, 000 a year," he says. "When we look at a person who is relatively low risk, but if they do have these episodes of anger fairly frequently, we estimate there would be about 150 extra heart attacks out of 10,000 a year."

Smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, being overweight and having diabetes are all risk factors for cardiovascular disease. An estimated 17 million people worldwide die of cardiovascular diseases, particularly heart attacks and strokes, each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study published Monday in the European Heart Journal was a data analysis looking at nine studies where anger and cardiovascular events were self-reported over nearly two decades.  The study found a 4.74 times higher risk of MI (myocardial infarction, or heart attack) or ACS (acute coronary syndrome, where the heart muscle doesn't get enough oxygen-rich blood) following outbursts of anger.

"Anger causes our heart rate to increase through the sympathetic nervous system and causes our stress hormones to become elevated (the fight or flight mechanism)," says Dr. Mariell Jessup, president of the American Heart Association and medical director of the Penn Heart and Vascular Center at the University of Pennsylvania. "We breathe faster, all of which may trigger undesirable reactions in our blood pressure or in our arteries."

This disruption may mean the heart or the brain doesn't get the blood and oxygen they need resulting in a heart attack or a stroke, she says.

Researchers suggest more needs to be done to come up with effective interventions to prevent cardiovascular events triggered by anger outbursts. The American Heart Association suggests regular physical activity, finding a way to relax or talking with friends to help reduce stress and anger.

Mittleman suggests the best way to lower your risk for a heart attack or stroke during an angry outburst is to lower your overall baseline level of risk - exercise, eat healthy and don't smoke - and then find ways to cope with stress and anger.


soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Steven Gordon

    Well, if stupid people wouldn't do stupid things, then I would have these stupid rage outbursts.

    March 3, 2014 at 21:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Booger

      I agree AND I'll bet you're the one who has to clean up the 'mess' they leave.....

      March 3, 2014 at 22:53 | Report abuse |
    • Larry H.

      true lol

      March 3, 2014 at 23:21 | Report abuse |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      I so wholeheartedly agree.

      March 3, 2014 at 23:53 | Report abuse |
    • Haha

      You're killing yourself.

      March 4, 2014 at 00:46 | Report abuse |
    • Stephen Harte

      The Cure For Heart Disease (and Cancer too)

      Stress (hostile) was the only reason I had my 2004 severe heart attack (trial lawyer). Then went into heart failure for 5 years. The above book explains the very successful therapy that saved my life. No conventional (including meds, surgeries) or alternative method or top doctor could help me at all (I consulted many, and tried everything including stem cell heart surgery, to no avail). Nearly died many times. The book explains what worked quite well. Not so difficult, but takes time. CNN may Contact me via email they you wish if any further info needed. Stephen Harte

      March 4, 2014 at 11:08 | Report abuse |
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      March 4, 2014 at 21:04 | Report abuse |
  2. Observer

    Expect the worst and you'll never be disappointed.

    March 3, 2014 at 23:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • steve

      prepare for the worst and hope for the best. that way when the worst happens you are ready for it. if it doesn't, you are even more pleased with the situation than had you prepared for the best and got the worst.

      March 4, 2014 at 03:35 | Report abuse |
    • Brite Star

      Yes We need to lower our exspectations.

      March 4, 2014 at 05:50 | Report abuse |
  3. ScottCA

    Events and actions do not make you angry; it is your perception of events and actions that leads to your anger.
    Maturity is achieved, by consciously realising this relationship and taking conscious control of it, for your own benefit and to achieve the best outcome for all, by managing your perceptions and by doing so your emotions.

    March 3, 2014 at 23:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • moribundman

      Your calm manner makes me so mad!

      March 3, 2014 at 23:28 | Report abuse |
    • P Wilkes

      Thx for the wisdom ghandi

      March 4, 2014 at 00:22 | Report abuse |
    • Mannee j

      P wilkes it's gandhi at least spell it right

      March 4, 2014 at 00:53 | Report abuse |
    • Me Vis

      You are so #*\~^<# right!

      March 4, 2014 at 02:56 | Report abuse |
    • dac

      Well what if somebody walks up to you and smacks you in the face? Can you control yourself then?

      March 4, 2014 at 07:59 | Report abuse |
  4. Larry H.

    So basically, if angry outbursts cause heart attacks/strokes.....and smoking weed causes me to calm down, laugh, etc...then weed is good!! That makes me happy. Moral of the story: Smoke more, be angry less.

    March 3, 2014 at 23:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JayB

      I have to agree.

      March 4, 2014 at 00:29 | Report abuse |
  5. janesauric

    How do you think I got the heart condition in the first place? Anger, frustration, more anger, repressed anger, more frustration and then more repressed anger.
    In science, a good researcher knows that coincidence does not prove causation, and that it is important, although sometimes difficult, to determine, what is cause and what is effect.

    March 3, 2014 at 23:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. JAE1983

    Obviously people who can't manage anger and stress constructively are more likely to have stress-related health conditions. Those same people are more likely to scream and yell rather than do something useful. None of this is news to anyone capable of intelligent thought.

    March 3, 2014 at 23:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      When you're surrounded by people too lazy or too stupid to think, it will tend to make you angry when you have to compensate for the stupidity of these people, or when they invariably waste your time. If you were actually capable of intelligent thought, you would understand this dynamic from having to deal with it on a daily basis. You probably make people want to scream because you're so dense.

      March 3, 2014 at 23:58 | Report abuse |
  7. chase b

    And this in news? Next up, researches have found that foods high in fat can cause diabetes.

    March 4, 2014 at 00:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • P Wilkes

      Nit funny at all

      March 4, 2014 at 00:20 | Report abuse |
    • jujubeans

      And this in news? Next up, researches have found that low cut blouses and short skirts can cause woodies.

      March 4, 2014 at 11:59 | Report abuse |
  8. ricky donaldson

    fun discourse all yee fellow angorians! may yee be calm and carreeeeeee on!

    March 4, 2014 at 00:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. carol

    I should have had a heart attack today. I called Panasonic for a phone support question about unblocking a caller. The automatic answering system asked fro many responses but did imply technical support. Not being able to say what I want, I was finally directed to a call center and was directed to technical support. In this proces, I heard vocal advertisements for the phone i already purchased. After all the questionable words I expressed in a loud tone of voice, I finally received the help I needed. Think I call them again tomorrow and wait two hours to see if I get a heart attack.

    March 4, 2014 at 00:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • P Wilkes

      Excuse me is this a comedy

      March 4, 2014 at 00:19 | Report abuse |
  10. P Wilkes

    Who let's the dogs outs who who whwk

    March 4, 2014 at 00:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. DJ

    When I was an very hypertensive teen, I had a friend the same age that always told me to don't sweat the small stuff and the big stuff always takes care of itself. I used to envy him for his calmness. I am still am nervouse wreck at age 68 and he died five years ago of a heart attack.

    March 4, 2014 at 01:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • 123elle

      Your friend may have had a congenital condition that predisposed him to an early heart attack. He may have actually lengthened his life by five or ten years by having a calmer personality. Without a full history and physical, there is no way to evaluate why he died. You are still relatively "young" - and the potential consequences of a choleric temper rise as the years pass. So... you still need to think about your disposition if you don't want to potentially shorten your life.

      March 4, 2014 at 02:59 | Report abuse |
    • JGN

      Does that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

      March 4, 2014 at 22:58 | Report abuse |
  12. Vic

    I've always wonder so it seems like a growing trend to be angry all the time. Everyone is ticked off and in a foul mood, but for what? If you really look at what is making you mad and think about it, its funny 90% of the time. Is it really that bad that it must ruin your day and everyone you meet, NO! I throw my hands up and say w t f and laugh it off. A few beers will help too.

    March 4, 2014 at 01:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JGN

      Totally agree except for the beers, but to each their own. It really does seem as if rage is growing. It's getting to be a very ugly world.

      March 4, 2014 at 23:00 | Report abuse |
  13. Julie

    The woman in the picture has the lips and the mouth that could change the world IF she use them without speaking

    March 4, 2014 at 01:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jujubeans

      I agree, Julie, but I'm a guy!

      March 4, 2014 at 10:37 | Report abuse |
  14. bug

    i'm a glorious 52 y/o mama of 3, married for 26 yrs & recently breast cancer 'survivor'.now my husband decided 5 yrs ago to shake up r marriage, he became a crack addict/dlr & has cheated t/o r marriage & lives n the garage. found out my daughter does web sex, my son is depressed & drinks his woes away & my youngest is a honor student but hasn't stayed in the same room with dad for 3 yrs.speaking of 3 yrs, it's been that long since i've had sex!smtimes i think maybe a heart attck wld b a nice change.lol

    March 4, 2014 at 01:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • 123elle

      Bless your heart. I wish you the best of health going forward. And good times too :) You have a lot on your plate, and your children need your love, guidance and example more than ever now. They need to learn to give you the support you need because you are irreplaceable! As for your immature and self-destructive husband, I hope he comes to his senses and realizes what he has. Some people never do, though. More's the pity. That doesn't make you any the less valuable.

      March 4, 2014 at 03:13 | Report abuse |
  15. Fred Flintstone

    I've been watching all these perpetually angry Right Wingers on TV, sputtering with endless rage and wishing they would just go away already.

    What's not to like? And how can I make them even angrier?

    March 4, 2014 at 02:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Mel Stricker

    Angry outbursts are bad and bottling things up inside are bad (can't win). I am not real good at this cause and effect stuff. Maybe the people who have no known cardiovascular problems and exhibit outbursts of anger really had cardiovascular problems but they were, as of yet, unknown. Since no one noticed anything until these people started having cardiovascular problems and then they back filled the outbursts and made the link and from that we get this article (or study)

    March 4, 2014 at 02:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JGN

      But bottling things up is NOT the opposite of rage; calmness is, and it's not at all the same thing. Sometimes taking time out to deep breathe and notice the blue sky or just anything pleasing can ease anger, but most of all telling yourself another's failings are not yours to correct helps ;-)

      March 4, 2014 at 23:02 | Report abuse |
  17. dalevitt

    This article really makes me mad .... oh, no, no, no...

    March 4, 2014 at 02:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Stosh

    I have a friend who has a temper, and tends to rant and rave over the smallest things. Plus, he drank mass amounts of coffee, and smoked 2+ packs of cigarettes every day. He recently had 3 TIA's (mini-strokes). When he went to a doctor, his blood pressure was 200/100.

    Luckily, he has few issues from the strokes. And he has stopped drinking coffee, given up cigarettes, and learned (or is learning) to control his temper.

    People do change when they face life-threatening situations.

    March 4, 2014 at 04:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. purp

    There's a thin line between dynamism and aggression. Letting things happen isn't always the right answer. Sometimes saying what needs to be said, regardless of how much others may dislike it, has no relationship to the ability to calm down afterwards. In other words, I can say it and calm right down if I put my mind to it.

    We are spending our lives dealing with our own b.s. as well as everyone else's. That is extremely stressful.

    Some thinking that could cause a compromised health situation after an emotional outburst could be, "I'm going to put a very abrupt end to all this." "Their problem is causing me an even bigger problem." "This is completely out of control."

    March 4, 2014 at 07:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Joe Schmoe

    "I'M MAD AS HELL AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"

    (thud)

    March 4, 2014 at 07:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Ed

    Outburst? OH REALLY? I would never have thought that. Yet more of our tax dollars wasted on stupidity.

    March 4, 2014 at 07:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. BlahBlahBlah

    And NOT getting angry when you need to, can lead to sorrowful outcomes. Deal with with it 'Trish'... humans need a relief valve, and you seem to be trying to plug it.

    March 4, 2014 at 07:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. shallowHal

    anger outbursts??? how about the freaking idiot comments on cnn? they will likely be the end.....of..................... me
    >why does my left arm hurt so<

    March 4, 2014 at 07:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Erron

    Haven't we known this for awhile?

    March 4, 2014 at 13:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Arturo Féliz-Camilo

    Reblogged this on Mr. Feliz's Blog (Teacher Arturo).

    March 4, 2014 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Artemis MA

    And, this is news?

    March 5, 2014 at 12:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. lauren jonczak

    This is very interesting. My aunt just died so I have been doing some research on treatments for heart failure, that is how I came across this post. I wonder if her anger had anything to do with her heart failure. Thanks for sharing!

    March 6, 2014 at 10:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. trabajar en abercrombie & fitch

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    March 11, 2014 at 02:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. lil mama

    lol yall funny

    March 11, 2014 at 09:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. wayne

    its good to share this kind of articles! Even if 1% people reading this think twice to control their anger, it would be a great effort! We at ,a href="www.waverleyheartclinic.com.au"> Waverley Heart Clinic always strive to educate not only our patients but everyone to be well aware of the cause, symptoms & cure of any heart related ailments!

    March 28, 2014 at 00:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. thomas m johnson

    I had a business and, was an electrician for 39 years. I wanted to work till I died. I loved it but my wife had a drinking problem day after day passing out and, gambling and, laughing at me and, calling me names all the time. I love our 2 kids at 16 and 18. I was an scout helping I and taking scouts al the time. My boy is a Eagle and graduated. I was discussed with my wife to not cogradulate him but, sit in the bar drunk. 12th grade no cogradulating. I could not stand it. I got a stroke and she would come in the hospital and, be drunk and, the nurses did want to use my room to sleep off her drunk! I could feel another stroke could come. My daughter by my side to help me.She is an A student and, athletic. Strong mind. I love my kids more than anything. My wife had many, many things bad when grew up. I am sad what happened to me but, dealing with my wife I could not stand it and got the stroke. I could write a book and, may do so. My kids are great as doing what there mother is a huge problem. They say I should have let her go 8 years ago. But, I was wed for life. I am sorry. I will be down for the rest of my life. My wife took off 1 3/4 years ago. No one knows where. She doesn't even talk to us. but it is better! Others tell us were better off. The whole small town is with us. I wish to no-one have a stroke! God is with us! In my opinion–my stroke was from worry about my family. My right muscles side wont come along. I hope it will. Dizzy all the time! I am amazing others say I treat it as a challenge. It is!!

    March 31, 2014 at 17:38 | Report abuse | Reply

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