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Why you shouldn’t do a hard workout when you’re upset

By Faeza
14 October 2016

Attempting to ‘blow off steam’ through vigorous exercise could triple the risk of a heart attack within the hour, new research claims.

Being very angry or upset more than doubles the risk of a heart attack within an hour, while heavy physical exertion does the same, a global study has found. But combining the two – such as using extreme exercise as a way of calming down - increases the risk even further.

Scientists analysed information from 12,461 patients from 52 countries with an average age of 58. They had completed a questionnaire about the kind of ‘triggers’ they experienced in the hour before they had a heart attack.

The results showed that 13 per cent had engaged in physical activity while 14 per cent were angry or emotionally upset. Risk factors such as age, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and other health problems were also taken into account.

Lead author Dr. Andrew Smyth, from the population health research institute at McMaster University in Canada, said the findings show that extreme emotional and physical triggers may have similar effects on the body.

"Regular physical activity has many health benefits, including the prevention of heart disease, so we want that to continue," he said in a statement. "However, we would recommend that a person who is angry or upset who wants to exercise to blow off steam not go beyond their normal routine to extremes of activity."

In response to the findings, Dr, Barry Jacobs, an American Heart Association volunteer and director of behavioural sciences at the Crozer-Keystone Family Medicine Residency Program in Springfield, Pennsylvania, said the study provides evidence of a “crucial link” between mind and body: “Excess anger, under the wrong conditions, can cause a life-threatening heart attack. All of us should practise mental wellness and avoid losing our temper to extremes. People who are at risk for a heart attack would do best to avoid extreme emotional situations.”

The study was published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

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