Where Angry Tweets Fester, Heart Disease Rises, Says Study

New research shows that where heart disease deaths are highest, you people are aggro.
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Publish date:
February 2, 2015
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Tags:
stress, anxiety, twitter, anger, heart disease, heart health

There are those people who seethe with hostility on Twitter. Whatever is going on, no matter how big or small, it’s rage-inducing. Congress. The weather. Order gone wrong at Starbucks. And man, are they going to make sure the world hears about it.

Maybe you’re one of those people, but I certainly hope not, because January 2015 research in Psychological Science points to higher rates of coronary heart disease in areas with angry tweeters. Heart disease is a big deal--it’s the number-one killer of women in the U.S.--so this new tracking method gives interesting insight into where people need to calm down.

Stress, long-term anger, and anxiety are all bad for your ticker. In the study, researchers tracked a year of tweeting and health data from approximately 1,300 U.S. counties, covering 88 percent of the population. Sure enough, where negative words such as “hate” and expletives were most used, heart disease deaths were highest. Positive words such as “friends” and “wonderful” showed up most in areas with the least amount of people dropping dead from heart attacks. (New York City is raging, while not one county in Vermont is in the danger zone.)

No one is saying that if you tweet with anger you will definitely get heart disease. The purpose of the study is to find out if Twitter-tracking is a reliable method for health professionals, and to find out where boiling anger pots are feeding off each other (stressy areas breed more stressy people) so programs can be put in place to help.

But the study provides an interesting barometer for the individual. Check your tweets over the last month. Are they hostile? “People who notice that they are feeling anxious or angry should work to find some ways to relieve that stress,” says Art Markman, Ph.D., author of Smart Change: Five Tools to Create New and Sustainable Habits in Yourself and Others. “There is a lot of great work on mindfulness meditation, for example, that demonstrates that mindfulness training can help reduce stress. In addition, regular exercise is a great way to help combat anxiety.”

Or, just stop fighting about politics on Twitter and re-tweet some puppies instead. Do it for your heart.

  • Be honest: Are you an angry Tweeter?
  • What gets you most riled up?

Photo: Jimmy Kimmel Live via