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Anger and exercise set off irregular heartbeats

According to new study, researchers have observed that anger and exercise can cause a person with an implantable heart device to have an uneven heart rhythm. Implantable cardiovascular defibrillators are placed in the hearts// of people who have abnormal heart rhythms. These irregular heartbeats can be life threatening. The defibrillators automatically give the patient a shock to the heart to restore normal rhythm of the heart. The shock is often described as a kick in the chest. If the patient does not receive this shock, they could die.

Researchers from the University of Yale desired to determine what triggers these dangerous heart rhythms. They conducted a study with 200 patients who had implantable devices. For almost four years, the patients kept diaries on their moods and exercise intensity after having a shock. Then they also recorded their emotions a week after having the shock to compare the two times. The patients rated their anger level and exercise level on a scale of one to five.

Researchers report anger levels were rated as a three or higher in 20 percent of the shock events vs. 5 percent the week later when the patient did not have an irregular heart rhythm requiring a shock. The patients who were shocked were driving, arguing, gambling, or had just received bad news. Researchers also found more than half of the patients were exercising at a level four or greater when they had a shock event.

Researchers finally observed that anger and physical activity can trigger abnormal heart rhythms in patients with implantable heart defibrillators. Future therapies looking at anger management techniques and ways to stop responses to physical stress may help patients avoid abnormal heart rhythms.


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