An intense outburst of rage may lead to a heart attack, a new study shows. And the numbers show that the bigger the rage, the bigger the risk of acute myocardial infarction (AMI), commonly known as a heart attack.

"Outbursts of anger are associated with an abrupt increase in cardiovascular events; however, it remains unknown whether greater levels of anger intensity are associated with greater levels of AMI risk or whether potentially modifiable factors can mitigate the short-term risk of AMI," the team writes in The Americcan Journal of Cardiology. Researchers analyzed data from the multicenter Determinants of Myocardial Infarction Onset Study, relating the number and intensity of fits of anger in the two hours before heart attack symptoms. Out of the 3,886 participants, 38 percent reported outbursts of anger in the previous year. The team found that the risk of having a heart attack was about 2.43 times higher within two hours of angry outbursts, compared to other times.

And the hotter the anger, the higher the risk. The most intense outbursts correlated to a more than four-fold increase in risk, Reuters reports. Overall, the team found that the risk for heart attack was about 1.7 times higher in people who felt moderate anger, 2.3 times higher in people so angry that their bodies tensed up and their teeth and fists clenched, and 4.5 times higher in people so enraged that they threw objects or lost control, Reuters adds.

Anger was most frequently caused by problems at home or work, or because of road rage.

However, the team added that regular users of beta-blocker drugs had "a lower susceptibility to heart attacks triggered by anger, suggesting that some drugs might lower the risk from each anger episode."

"The association is consistently stronger with increasing anger intensity; it's not just that any anger is going to increase your risk," lead author Elizabeth Mostofsky told Reuters.

Dr. James O'Keefe, a cardiologist at St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. who wasn't involved in the study, told Reuters that the results "make sense." Anger releases hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine, which in turn raise blood pressure and pulse rate, constrict blood vessels, and increase the risk of blood clot formation. "Contrary to the urban myth that it's best to express anger and get it out there, expressing anger takes a toll on your system and there's nothing really cathartic about it," O'Keefe told Reuters. "[Anger] serves no purpose other than to corrode the short and long-term health of your heart and blood vessels."

Source: E Mostofsky, M Maclure, G Toffler, et al. Relation of Outbursts of Anger and Risk of Acute Myocardial Infarction. The American Journal of Cardiology. 2013.