According to a recent research emotions like anger and hostility may increase the risk of developing atrial fibrillation, which raises the risk of stroke (a condition caused due to lack of oxygen to the brain leading to coma, speech defects, loss of memory and reversible or irreversible paralysis).
Atrial fibrillation is a disorder characterized by abnormal heart rhythm. This disorder causes the upper chambers of the heart (called atria) to contract so quickly that they are unable to pump adequate blood into the lower chambers of the heart (called ventricles).
A study was conducted on 1,769 men and 1,913 women to look for any link between psychological factors, heart disease and atrial fibrillation. All the participants (average age 49 years) were examined at the beginning of the study and then monitored for a period of 10 years.
At the end of the study it was observed that men with increased feelings of hostility (i.e. having contemptuous attitude towards other people) had 30% more risk of developing atrial fibrillation as compared to less hostile men. Men who experienced intense anger and lost their temper quickly were 10-20% more at risk of developing atrial fibrillation. These emotional factors were found to be independent of other risk factors of atrial fibrillation such as high blood pressure and age. However, the researchers did not find increased risk of atrial fibrillation in men with “Type A personality” alone (i.e. men who are impatient, always in a hurry, competitive or hard-driving and think about work all the time).
No significant link was found between anger/hostility and the risk of developing atrial fibrillation in women. But this may be because women usually develop heart disease at a later stage and the women involved in the study were fairly young. Hence, some more studies may need to be done where women are followed-up for a longer period.
The researchers conclude from the study that men who frequently feel intense anger (i.e. those who are hot headed, quick-tempered, furious when criticized etc.) and hostility are more at risk of atrial fibrillation as compared to men who are simply stressed out (Type A personality). As these emotions are found to be detrimental to health, men should learn to handle these emotions judiciously. In fact, researchers feel that future interventions to prevent early cases of atrial fibrillation in men might include anger and hostility recognition and management