Exercising While Angry Is Bad for Your Heart

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New research suggests intense emotion or heavy physical exertion could trigger a heart attack -- but combining the two is even more risky.

If you’re feeling really angry or upset, you may want to avoid the gym or skip your morning run. Your heart will thank you.

According to new research published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, either intense emotion or heavy physical exertion alone can trigger a heart attack in some people. An international study of more than 12,000 people found that experiencing intense emotion or intense physical activity doubles the risk of suffering heart attack symptoms within an hour.

However, combining the two more than triples your heart attack risk, the AHA says in a press release.

Dr. Andrew Smyth, the lead study author and a researcher at the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster University in Canada, says this study is unique in that its subjects come from 52 countries and represent the majority of ethnic groups.

“Previous studies have explored these heart attack triggers; however, they had fewer participants or were completed in one country, and data are limited from many parts of the world,” Smyth explains.

The AHA says the study reveals that heavy physical exertion, intense anger and emotional upset “independently increase a person’s heart attack risk beyond that posed by other risk factors, including age, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and other health problems.”

Smyth is quick to point out that the study doesn’t negate the health benefits of regular physical activity, including reducing the risk of heart disease. However, he says people need to be careful that they don’t overdo it when they’re feeling angry or upset and they want to “blow off steam.”

Barry Jacobs, an AHA volunteer and director of behavioral sciences at the Crozer-Keystone Family Medicine Residency Program in Pennsylvania, says this study reveals the critical link between mind and body. He explains:

“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.”

Check out these “Commonly Used Pain Relievers Linked to Heart Disease Risk.”

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Stacy Johnson

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