Why blowing off steam after a stressful day could be deadly
It might seem like a natural way to alleviate stress, but over-exercising when feeling upset triples the risk of suffering a heart attack, a new study has found.
Many people now take out their bad moods at the gym, or by pounding the pavement, but scientists say that exertion coupled with stress could be deadly.
A study of more than 12,000 people found that being angry or upset raises the risk of a heart attack two-fold. But the risk increases to three fold when coupled with heavy physical exertion.
Dr Andrew Smyth, of the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster University in Canada, who led the study, said: “Regular physical activity has many health benefits, including the prevention of heart disease, so we want that to continue.
“However, we would recommend that a person who is angry or upset who wants to exercise to blow off steam not go beyond their normal routine to extremes of activity.”
Researchers analysed data from 12,461 patients, of an average age of 58, across 52 countries including Britain who had all suffered heart attacks.
Participants completed a questionnaire about what they had been doing in the hour before their heart attack. Many had been upset or angry just before an attack.
Smyth said that extreme emotional and physical triggers are thought to have similar effects on the body.
“This large, nearly worldwide study provides more evidence of the crucial link between mind and body,” said Dr Barry Jacobs, at the Crozer-Keystone Family Medicine Residency Program in Springfield, Pennsylvania.
“Excess anger, under the wrong conditions, can cause a life-threatening heart attack. All of us should practice mental wellness and avoid losing our temper to extremes.”
“People who are at risk for a heart attack would do best to avoid extreme emotional situations.
“One way many cope with the emotional ups and downs of a health condition is through peer support, talking with others who are facing similar challenges can be very helpful in better managing your own emotions.
The research was published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.