(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Have you ever been so angry that you felt like your
heart may burst? Your body may have been sending you a warning sign.
New research finds that electrical changes in the heart brought on by anger can
predict future arrhythmias and it may link mental stress to sudden cardiac
Previous studies have shown that stressful times, such as an earthquake or war,
can bring on heart attacks, but this is the first study to show that changes
brought on by anger and other strong emotions can predict arrhythmias in
patients with implantable cardiverter-debirillators.
"It's an important study because we are beginning to understand how anger and
other types of mental stress can trigger potentially lethal ventricular
arrhythmias, especially among patients with structural heart abnormalities,"
Rachel Lampert, M.D., an associate professor at the Yale University School of
Medicine, was quoted as saying.
For the study, 62 patients with ICDs underwent monitoring during a mental stress
test. The tests were conducted about three months after the ICDs were implanted,
and patients were asked to recall a recent situation during which they were
angry or aggravated. Researchers then analyzed the patients' T-wave alternans (TWA),
a measure of the heart's electrical stability.
For the next several years, researchers followed patients to determine who had
arrhythmias that required termination by the ICD.
The doctors discovered that the patients who had experienced higher levels of
anger-induced TWA were ten times more likely to experience ICD-terminated
arrhythmias than other patients.
The researchers said developing an accurate, non-invasive risk assessment test
to identify at-risk patients is critical to saving lives. Each year, more than
400,000 people die of sudden cardiac arrest.
"More research is needed, but these data suggest that therapies focused on
helping patients deal with anger and other negative emotions may help reduce
arrhythmias and, therefore, sudden cardiac death in certain patients," Lampert
SOURCE: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, March 3, 2009