Heart risks and anger


Roundup: How Recurring Bouts of Anger can Raise Risk of Heart Disease, Heart Attack; and More News

Frequent Bursts of Anger Can Increase Risk of Heart Disease, Heart Attack, Finds NIH-Supported Study

Recurring bursts of anger may increase a person’s risk of developing heart disease, according to a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). By limiting the blood vessels’ ability to open – or dilate – bouts of anger can affect a function believed to be pivotal in preventing arteries from hardening, researchers say.

The study’s findings, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, may also explain how anger can contribute to a higher risk of having a heart attack.

Previous studies have found an association between negative emotions – including anger, anxiety and sadness – and an increased risk for heart attacks and strokes. “But little is known about how these emotions trigger changes in the body that lead to cardiovascular events,” states a news release on the new study from the American Heart Association (AHA).

For the new study, 280 apparently healthy young adults were recruited. They had no history of heart disease or stroke, their related risk factors, serious mental health conditions or other chronic illnesses.

After baseline measurements were taken, individuals were randomly assigned to one of four tasks.

Explains the AHA news release: “Over an eight-minute period, one group was asked to recall personal memories aloud that evoked anger. Another was asked to recall memories aloud that evoked anxiety. A third was asked to read sentences aloud that evoked sadness, and the final group was asked to count aloud to remain in an emotionally neutral condition. These tasks were followed by a second silent resting period.”

Compared to the “emotionally neutral group,” those who recalled memories that provoked anger experienced a diminished ability of their blood vessels to dilate, which was cut by more than half. This effect peaked 40 minutes after the anger recall, and then the blood vessels’ function returned to normal.

Because this occurred after only eight minutes of recalling angry feelings, the study poses questions about “the cumulative impact of anger on blood vessel function over a longer period of time,” said lead study author Daichi Shimbo, M.D., a cardiologist and co-director of the Hypertension Center at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, in a statement

"We showed that if you get angry once, it impairs your ability to dilate," said Dr. Shimbo, who is also a professor of medicine at Columbia. "But what if you get angry 10,000 times over a lifetime? This chronic insult to your arteries eventually may lead to permanent damage. That's what we think is going on."

American Cancer Society Launches Landmark Study of Cancer Risk, Outcomes in Black Women

The American Cancer Society (ACS) this week announced the launch of the VOICES of Black Women study, the “largest behavioral and environmental focused population study of cancer risk and outcomes in Black women in the United States.”

Despite significant advances in cancer research and an overall declining rate of deaths from the disease, Black women continue to have the “highest death rate and the shortest survival of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S. for most cancers,” the ACS said.

The ACS said the long-term study aims to better understand the factors that drive cancer incidence, mortality and resilience within this demographic. Researchers will collect key data from Black women between the ages of 25 and 55 from diverse backgrounds and income levels who have not been diagnosed with cancer.

The goal is to enroll more than 100,000 Black women across 20 states and D.C. where, according to the U.S. Census, more than 90 percent of Black women in the U.S. reside, states the ACS.

Led by ACS researchers, Alpa Patel, M.D., and Lauren McCullough, M.D., the VOICES of Black Women study will partner with communities of Black women and multi-disciplinary experts in Black women’s health to listen.

“VOICES of Black Women represents a crucial step toward achieving health equity in a population that is long overdue,” said Dr. Patel, co-principal investigator of the study and senior vice president of population science at the ACS, in a statement. “The data we’ve uncovered through previous population studies has been critical in reducing the unacceptably high burden of cancer, but that reduction has sadly not been equal. By centering Black women’s voices and experiences, we can dig deeper in uncovering the unique challenges and barriers contributing to cancer disparities and develop tailored interventions to mitigate them."

Cardiorespiratory Fitness Via Regular Exercise can Lower Risk of Early Death Significantly, Finds Large Review of Studies

A first-of-its kind analysis by researchers of 199 previous studies involving more than 20 million participants focused on how cardiorespiratory fitness through regular aerobic exercise – including running, brisk walking, cycling and swimming – vastly improves the health of individuals.

Researchers from the University of South Australia (UniSA) found that cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) can lower the risk of premature death, chronic diseases, and complications from existing poor health – such as heart disease and cancer -- by at least 11 to 17 percent.

But a higher degree of CRF translates into a much lower risk of premature death. Those with high fitness levels had a 41 percent to 53 percent lower risk of premature death from any cause, compared to those with low fitness levels. Each incremental increase in fitness using the “one metabolic equivalent” (MET) measure was associated with a 7 percent to 51 percent lower mortality risk, depending on the cause of death.

One MET refers to the energy spent sitting at rest – or a person’s resting or basal metabolic rate. For example, an activity with a MET value of four means an individual is exerting four times the energy than they would if they were sitting still.

Specifically, the study found that every 1-MET increase in CRF reduced the risk of early death from any cause and heart failure by 11–17 percent and 18 percent, respectively. One MET is equal to about 3.5 milliliters of oxygen consumed per kilogram (kg) of body weight per minute.

The study by UniSA researchers, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, concludes that that high CRF is strongly associated with lower risk of premature mortality, rates of chronic conditions such as hypertension, heart failure, stroke, atrial fibrillation, dementia and depression.

“Cardiorespiratory fitness (or CRF) is your ability to perform physical activity for a long period of time like running, cycling, and swimming,” said the study’s senior author, Grant Tomkinson, UniSA professor. “In this study we found that high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness reduce the risk of dying early from any cause. We summarized the evidence linking CRF to numerous health outcomes and found that those with low levels of CRF are far more likely to die early or develop chronic conditions like heart disease later in life.”

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