Dec 28, 2016 04:15PM
Revved up? Rest: Exercising while worked up might be bad for your heart
A study published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, revealed the risk of a heart attack can triple when a patient engages in physical exertion within an hour of being emotionally upset or angry.
Experts say the study is the biggest of its kind, and provides evidence of a link between emotional state and health.
Lead study author Dr. Andrew Smyth, of the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster University in Canada, says extreme emotional and physical triggers can increase blood pressure and heart rate. Intense exercise, when combined with anger or a state of upset, can cause blood vessels to temporarily narrow, reducing the supply of blood to the heart. While this is not necessarily an immediate risk for otherwise healthy people, it could trigger a cardiac event in those who are unaware they have heart conditions.
"This is particularly important in blood vessels already narrowed by plaque, which could block the flow of blood leading to a heart attack," Smyth says.
Exercising while angry or emotionally upset especially could be more risky for men older than the age of 60. The American Heart Association reports the risk is highest for that age group and that the average age of the first heart attack for men is 65.
Smyth and his team analyzed information from more than 12,000 patients in 52 countries. Patients had an average age of 58, and completed a questionnaire about the types of triggers they experienced an hour before their heart attack. Thirteen percent of respondents says they had engaged in physical activity while fourteen percent says they were angry or upset. Researchers also took into consideration and adjusted for factors such as health, smoking, age and blood pressure.
While regular exercise can have many health benefits, including prevention of heart disease, researchers recommend people who want to exercise to blow off steam not go beyond their normal routine to extremes of activity.
Exercise intensity often is measured by heart rate. For a normal person, that maximum heart rate is typically their age subtracted by 220. The American Heart Association says that "moderately intense" exercise is typically 50 to 69 percent of a person's maximum heart rate, roughly 90 to 124 beats per minute for a 40-year-old. Dr. Gerald Fletcher, cardiologist and professor in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Jacksonville, Fla., says as a general rule of thumb "if you're not able to carry on a conversation (while exercising), that may be a bit too much."
Barry Jacobs, Psy.D., director of behavioral sciences at the Crozer-Keystone Health System in Springfield, Penn., says in a news release that the study provides more evidence to the link between mind and body. Jacobs says that excess anger, under the wrong conditions, can cause a life-threatening heart attack.
"People who are at risk for a heart attack would do best to avoid extreme emotional situations," Jacobs says.
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