Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Disease Health Center

Font Size

Angry Heart Can Kill

Anger Can Trigger Life-Threatening Heart Rhythm Disturbances in Heart Disease Patients
WebMD Health News

Nov. 13, 2006 (Chicago) -- Don't get mad! A new study suggests that, for some people, anger can be deadly.

In a study of more than 1,000 people with heart disease who had implantable cardioverter defibrillators, being moderately angry more than tripled the risk of a life-threatening heart rhythm disturbance.

And becoming very angry, furious, or enraged increased the risk nearly 17-fold, says researcher Christine Albert, director of the Center for Arrhythmia Prevention at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

The study was presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2006.

The Dangers of Anger

Study participants had a history of heart rhythm problems, also known as arrhythmias, some of which can be deadly.

The implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or ICD, used by the participants is a tiny device placed under the skin and connected by wires to the heart. It automatically shocks an irregularly beating heart back to normal rhythm.

Every few months, participants were asked to fill out questionnaires on their lifestyle and emotions. They were also asked to call their doctors any time their ICD delivered a shock.

The researchers then reviewed stored data from the ICDs before and after each shock to determine if the patients had suffered life-threatening disturbances.

Shocks Painful, Upsetting

The data showed that over a period of two years, participants experienced 199 heart rhythm disturbances severe enough to be fatal if not treated with a shock within minutes.

In 15 of these cases, the participants reported they were at least moderately angry in the hour before their ICD went off.

Though the shocks are lifesaving, Albert says, they are painful and disturbing.

"If a person has a whole bunch of shocks in a row, they can't sleep or eat. It's like posttraumatic stress disorder," she tells WebMD.

Studies suggest that patients who get frequent shocks don't fare as well as those who get fewer shocks from their devices, Albert says.

American Heart Association past President Robert O. Bonow, MD, who is chief of cardiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, says the study adds to growing evidence that anger, stress, and other negative emotions can trigger heart disease.

At least one study has shown that people are more likely to have a heart attackheart attack within two hours of a bout of anger than at other times of the day, he notes.

Today on WebMD

x-ray of human heart
A visual guide.
atrial fibrillation
Symptoms and causes.
heart rate graph
10 things to never do.
heart rate
Get the facts.
empty football helmet
red wine
eating blueberries
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Inside A Heart Attack
Omega 3 Sources
Salt Shockers
lowering blood pressure