Anger is Toxic for Heart Attack Patients

Myocardial infarction patients must control stress and anger

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Anger may exacerbate already serious health problems. Heart attacks patients who are angry and stressed are twice as likely to experience another cardiac event.

But the good news is that positive emotions such as imagination, empathy and spirituality are believed to help protect the heart, research recent reported at the European Society of Cardiology's 2011 Congress in Paris revealed.

"Stay positive to cut your risk of cardiac events."

Dr. Franco Bonaguidi, an Italian researcher, psychologist and cardiovascular disease specialist from the Institute of Clinical Physiology, said  patients recovering from acute myocardial infarction, a common type of heart attack, are especially vulnerable and at a higher risk from negative emotions as compared to patients with stable coronary artery disease.

He said that the positive news is that these patients have a chance to change their behavior, possibly with help from therapy, which could cut their risk.

During a 10-year study, 228 patients hospitalized in one of 13 coronary care units in Italy between 1990 and 1995 and diagnosed with acute myocardial infarction underwent extensive psychological evaluations.

After hospital discharge, the patients entered a clinical follow up program for the next 10 years. During that time, 51 cardiac events were reported.  In order to better understand predictors for those heart events, researchers examined factors including age, gender, psychological state and exams, and other clinical data.

They found that angry patients were 2.3 times were more likely to suffer another cardiac event, while those with stress-related disturbances were 1.9 times more likely to experience another heart-related event.

Within the decade after their first heart attack, patients that were found to score the highest in anger on psychological exams at 57 percent had a significantly lower chance of surviving without another heart attack. This was compared to a 79 percent infarction-free survival rate among patients without high levels of anger.

Researchers also found that positive emotions provided protection to the heart. They said the study suggests a multidimensional therapeutic approach that includes psychotherapy in addition to medication, could aid such patients.

Research presented at academic meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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Review Date: 
August 28, 2011
Last Updated:
August 29, 2011