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An angry heart can kill you

health and fitness Updated: Feb 25, 2009 15:58 IST

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When you're angry, the tension is not just restricted to your head, claims a new study, which found that anger can trigger potentially deadly heart rhythms in certain vulnerable people.

The study from Yale School of Medicine researchers links changes brought on by anger or other strong emotions to future arrhythmias and sudden cardiac arrests.

Arrhythmias, which are heart rhythm problems, happen because of a malfunction in the electrical impulses in your heart that coordinate heart beats.

The study, led by Rachel Lampert, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine, has been published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

To reach the conclusion, the researchers studied 62 patients with implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) and enlarged hearts.

They were monitored three months after the ICD was implanted and then given a mental stress test requiring them to recall a stressful situation that angered them.

Lampert and her team sought to discover whether T-wave alternans (TWA), which monitor electrical instability in the heart induced by anger, would predict future ventricular arrhythmias.

The team found that those in the group with more anger-induced electrical instability were more likely to experience arrhythmias one year after the study than those in the control group.

"Further studies are needed to determine whether there is a role for therapies which may reduce anger and the body's response to stress, thereby preventing arrhythmias in those at risk," said Lampert.