Working Out Angry Can Increase Heart Attack Risk

New research may have older adults thinking twice before using a vigorous work-out to relieve tension after a stressful day and instead take a few moments of deep breathing to chill out before hitting the gym.

While getting regular exercise is a key component of good health, exerting yourself when angry or upset can put your heart in danger.  A recent study, published October 11 in the Journal Circulation, found that strenuous exercise combined with intense anger could be a dangerous mix, increasing chances of heart attack within the hour by up to three times the normal risk for adults in middle to older age.

The study, led by Andrew Smyth of McMaster University in Ontario, also revealed that emotional stress alone can double your risk of suffering a heart attack within the hour.  Both extreme anger and physical exertion increase heart rate and blood pressure which can alter the flow of blood in vessels and reduce blood supply to the heart.  In already narrowed blood vessels, this change in flow could lead to a heart attack.

While many turn to exercise to relieve stress and blow off steam, researchers recommend not exerting beyond the normal when angry or upset. Deep breathing exercises to calm down, meditation and anger management programs can help give stressed-out adults a better chance of avoiding a cardiovascular event.

The risk for a heart attack as a result of heavy physical exertion while being angry or upset is greatest between 6 p.m. and midnight. Other factors such as high blood pressure, obesity and smoking also increased risk for heart attack.