STUDY: Anger can increase heart attack or stroke risk for up to 40 minutes
05/08/2024 // Zoey Sky // Views

For the average adult, different things like a traffic jam on the way to work can cause stress or more intense feelings such as anger. However, according to a study, it's better to stay calm instead of getting upset because emotions like anger may increase the risk of a heart attack or a stroke for up to 40 minutes.

Details of the study were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

According to the scientists who conducted the study, even brief moments of anger can damage the normal function of blood vessels, which can potentially increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke for up to 40 minutes.

Dr. Daichi Shimbo, a study author and a professor of medicine at Columbia University, explained that they observed how "evoking an angered state led to blood vessel dysfunction." He added that the research team also still doesn't fully understand what may cause these changes. (Related: Study links smartphone use to heart attack and stroke risk.)

The scientists described this effect as an "impairment in blood vessel dilation." In theory, an interrupted supply of blood can cause a heart attack or stroke.

For the study, the research team reviewed data from 280 volunteers with an average age of 26. All the volunteers were told to relax for 30 minutes. During this time, the volunteers were not allowed to talk, read, use their phones or sleep. Their blood pressure reading was taken and recorded before each person was randomly assigned one of a total of four different eight-minute tasks.

For one of the tasks, the volunteers were asked to remember a personal memory that made them angry. Meanwhile, the other participants were asked to remember a moment of anxiety or read a series of depressing sentences intended to elicit sadness.

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A fourth emotionally neutral task instructed the participants to count repeatedly to 100.

Their blood pressure and vessel dilation measurements were taken after three minutes and again at 40, 70 and 100 minutes later. Blood samples were also taken from the participants to assess cell health.

The scientists reported that doing the tasks that recalled past events causing anger caused "an impairment in blood vessel dilation, from zero to 40 minutes after the task." They added that the impairment ceased after the 40-minute mark.

The scientists also did not observe "statistically significant changes to participants' blood vessel linings at any time points after experiencing the anxiety and sadness emotional tasks."

They also acknowledged the small study size, noting that it remains to be seen if the results would also apply to older adults with other health conditions, who would most likely be taking medications.

Dr. Glenn Levine, a professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, thinks that the study adds to the growing body of scientific evidence that suggests "mental well-being can affect cardiovascular health and that intense acute emotional states, such as anger or stress, may lead to cardiovascular events."

Levine, who wasn't involved with the research, also explained that intense sadness or similar emotions are common triggers for Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, a condition also called "broken heart syndrome." Meanwhile, events like earthquakes that may provoke stress may cause myocardial infarctions or arrhythmias.

Earlier in 2024, data suggested that premature deaths from cardiovascular problems, such as heart attacks and strokes, have hit their highest level in over a decade.

Cases of heart attacks, heart failure and strokes among the under-75s have gone down since the 1960s because of a significant decrease in smoking rates, advanced surgical techniques and breakthroughs such as stents and statins.

However, increasing obesity rates and various related health problems such as diabetes and hypertension are considered one of the major contributing factors.

Simple ways to support a healthy heart

While some risk factors for stroke can’t be controlled, people still have some control over other risk factors, including blood pressure, cholesterol levels and lifestyle choices.

Manage blood pressure

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke. It also significantly contributes to at least 90 percent of all strokes.

Normal blood pressure is defined as 120/80 millimeters of mercury. Blood pressure measurements slightly above that may have an increased risk of stroke. Blood pressure can be better managed by:

  • Exercising regularly.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Reducing your sodium intake.
  • Following a heart-healthy eating plan, such as the Mediterranean diet or DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.

Good blood pressure management may help prevent at least 40 percent of strokes.

Exercise regularly

Exercise can help protect against some of the leading risk factors for stroke. Engaging in regular physical activity can help people at risk:

Exercise can also support heart health and reduce risk of stroke. Those who exercise regularly have a lower risk of stroke, and people who have a stroke are less likely to die than people who aren’t active.

Even people with healthy weights can benefit from engaging in moderate to intense exercise most days of the week.

Visit to read more stories with tips on how to support heart health.

Watch this clip about how nutritious organic apples can help support optimal heart function.

This video is from the Health Ranger Store channel on

More related stories:

Study: HEART ATTACKS are declining among older people but INCREASING in young adults.

Study: Vitamin D supplementation found to reduce the risk of heart attack.

Ginger found to help lower risk of hypertension and coronary heart disease.

Sources include:

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