Fast Track to a Heart Attack

December 10, 2016 in STSMPT


A new study shows that intense emotions and heavy physical exertion may be triggers for first time heart attacks. The research included over 12,000 participants from 52 countries. It shows that experiencing strong emotions such as anger and distress, as well as strenuous physical activity, doubled heart attack risk in the hour following. The risk tripled for participants who were upset and exerted themselves at the same time.


Intense emotions and activity can drive up blood pressure and heart rate, causing blood vessels to constrict. This can lead to a heart attack for people with artery clogging plaques. These plaques can rupture and cut off blood flow to the heart.


Study authors say the finding concerning intense exertion does not negate the importance of regular exercise. Physical activity has many long-term health benefits including lowering the odds of heart disease. However, for those with risk factors for a heart attack, the researchers advise avoiding physical and emotional “extremes” by limiting heavy exertion and finding better strategies to deal with emotions.


Source: Smyth A, O’Donnell M, Lamelas P, et al. Physical Activity and Anger or Emotional Upset as Triggers of Acute Myocardial Infarction. Circulation, 2016; 134: 1059-1067.


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