People who experience brief moments of anger are at an increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke up to 40 minutes afterwards, research has claimed.

Scientists have discovered that the functioning of an individual’s blood vessels can become impaired for 40 minutes after getting angry, putting them at risk of having a heart attack or stroke during this time.

Senior author Dr Daichi Shimbo said: “We saw that evoking an angered state led to blood vessel dysfunction. Though we don’t yet understand what may cause these changes.”

As part of the trial, the team of researchers assessed the health data of 280 adults aged 26-years-old.

Blood pressure readings were taken before the participants relaxed for 30 minutes, and then again when they were made to feel angry, sad, depressed or anxious.

Measurements were recorded again after three, 40, 70 and 100 minutes. In addition, the scientists looked at the participant’s cell health by analysing their blood samples.

The results state: “Tasks that recalled past events causing anger led to an impairment in blood vessel dilation, from zero to 40 minutes after the task.

“The impairment was no longer present after the 40-minute mark. There were no statistically significant changes to participants’ blood vessel linings at any time points after experiencing the anxiety and sadness emotional tasks.”

The authors added: “It was unclear whether the results would 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 Houston, who wasn’t involved with the research, noted: “This study adds nicely to the growing evidence base that mental wellbeing can affect cardiovascular health and that intense acute emotional states, such as anger or stress, may lead to cardiovascular events.

“For instance, we know that intense sadness or similar emotions are a common trigger for Takotsubo cardiomyopathy (broken heart syndrome).”

Dr Levine added: “Events such as earthquakes, or even a fan watching a soccer match, which provoke stress, may lead to myocardial infarction (a heart attack) and/or to arrhythmias.”

Since the 1960s, the number of under-75s having strokes, heart attacks and heart failure has fallen thanks to advanced surgical techniques, lower smoking rates and breakthroughs such as stents and statins.

However, the obesity crisis sweeping the UK has caused the number of premature deaths from cardiovascular complications to hit their highest level in more than 10 years.

Read the study in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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