Washington, D.C. How the heart handles anger seems to predict who’s at risk for a life-threatening irregular heartbeat.
Negative emotions like hostility and depression have long been considered risks for developing heart disease, and deaths from cardiac arrest rise after disasters such as earthquakes.
But research released Monday goes a step farther, uncovering a telltale pattern in the EKGs of certain heart patients when they merely recall a maddening event — an anger spike that foretold bad news.
People whose EKGs showed a big anger spike were 10 times more likely to have their defibrillators fire a lifesaving shock in the next three years than similarly ill patients whose hearts didn’t react to anger, according to the report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Nobody knows whether anger has a similar electrical effect in people whose hearts aren’t already diseased.