Study Shows How Physical and Emotional Stress Can be Deadly Duo

Exercise is vital for maintaining a healthy heart, but exercising as a way of “blowing off steam” can actually have the opposite effect. This is the conclusion of a recent study showing similar rates of heart failure among those who were at the time exercising and those who were angry or upset. It also shows the importance of mind/body interaction.

Published in a journal of the American Heart Association, the study of heart attack sufferers involved some 12,000 citizens of more than 50 countries. According the respondents, 14 percent said they had suffered a heart attack when they were either angry or emotionally upset about something. In a strikingly similar figure, 13 percent had been stricken while they were engaged in some type of strenuous physical exercise. More about this study is available at

According to Dr. Andrew Smyth, who headed the study, both strenuous physical activity and severe emotional strain have the effect of raising a person’s blood pressure and heart rate, factors that can lead to coronary failure. In cases where both exercise and psychological strain were combined, the risk of heart failure actually tripled. There are other issues that can further increase this risk, including one’s age and weight and whether the person engages in activities that are unhealthy, such as smoking. Commenting specifically on the psychological issue, behavioral scientist Barry Jacobs noted how the study seemed to further prove the close relationship between physical and emotional stress.

Despite its findings, the study indicated that only one in four heart attacks are directly related to either physical or emotional strain. An observer at the British Heart Association noted that most heart attacks stem directly from blockage of the arteries. However, research does show the importance of good physical and psychological health, both of which can be enhanced through moderate exercise.