Relax—for your heart’s sake
It is well known that stress and anger are not heart-healthy, but a new School of Medicine study, published in the March 3 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, provides new evidence of the harmful effects of mental stress on the heart.
Rachel J. Lampert, M.D., associate professor of medicine, and colleagues sought to learn whether anger would increase T-wave alternans (TWA), which measure electrical instability in the heart, and whether anger-induced electrical instability would predict future problems in patients being treated for arrhythmias. Asking 62 patients with enlarged hearts and recently implanted defibrillators to perform math problems under pressure and to recall situations in which they were angry while undergoing standard heart monitoring, they found that those with greater anger-induced TWA were more likely to experience arrhythmias in the future.
“Further studies are needed to determine whether there is a role for therapies which may reduce anger and the body’s response to stress,” Lampert says, “thereby preventing arrhythmias in those at risk.”