RSSNegative emotions starve your heart

Posted on Mon, 13 Dec 10

Negative emotions starve your heart

Negative emotions are strongly related to the development of heart disease and a new study has found that a bad mood quite literally suffocates your heart.

Depression, anxiety, stress, and personality types with tendencies toward hostility, pessimism or social isolation have all been found to increase risk for heart disease (1). The association between bad mood and a bad heart is quite strong. For example, a study of over 25,000 people from 52 countries found that feeling irritable or filled with anxiety raised risk of heart attack by over 200% (2).

To see if transient negative emotions in everyday life affect heart health a group of people were equipped with portable monitors which measured their heart function over a 24 hour period (3). Their moods were then assessed using an interview technique that involves recalling the day prior, just like a movie.

A reduction in positive mood and increase in worry preceded, within just 15 minutes, reduced blood supply to the heart, a condition known as silent transient myocardial ischemia. Ischemia (lack of blood supply) deprives the heart of oxygen and nutrients and may damage the heart muscle leading to future heart disease. It was concluded that "this small study indicates that emotional state may contribute to vulnerability of cardiac dysfunction in everyday life."



1. Brotman DJ, Golden SH, Wittstein IS. The cardiovascular toll of stress. Lancet. 2007 Sep 22;370(9592):1089-100.

2. Rosengren A, Hawken S, Ounpuu S, et al. Association of psychosocial risk factors with risk of acute myocardial infarction in 11,119 cases and 13,646 controls from 52 countries (the INTERHEART study): case-control study. Lancet 2004;364:953–62.

3. Bhattacharyya MR, Steptoe A. Mood and transient cardiac dysfunction in everyday life. J Behav Med. 2010 Jul 17. [Epub ahead of print]

Tags: Mind-body, Heart Disease, Negative Emotions

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