Do American presidential elections stress you out? Seem to make your blood boil, even? A new study has found that political contests might have observable health effects. Specifically, the 2016 contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton may have raised the risk of abnormal heart rhythms in people with cardiovascular disease.
In the study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers looked at 2,500 people with implanted cardiac devices (such as pacemakers) in North Carolina, a swing state in 2016 that saw a high number of negative ads, commercials, and campaign events with fiery rhetoric. Read on to find out more, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You Had COVID and Didn’t Know It.
Scientists Found More of Several Different Heart Events
The scientists recorded the number of cardiac arrhythmias in the group—heartbeats that are too fast or too slow—in two six-week periods immediately before and after the election, comparing those rates with two six-week periods in years before the election. The researchers observed:
- A 77% greater risk of cardiac arrhythmias during the election. “The increase in risk was significant, even after taking into account known risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as age, hypertension, health behaviors, and other medical conditions,” said the study’s lead author, Lindsey Rosman, Ph.D., an assistant professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina
- An 82% increase in atrial arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillations. “This is important because it can increase your risk of blood clots, stroke, and other heart-related complications,” said Rosman.
- 60% more ventricular arrhythmias, an abnormal heart rhythm that can lead to cardiac arrest.
Rosman said earlier studies had found that serious cardiovascular events increased after major national events such as natural disasters and terrorist attacks. “But the direct link between a stressful political election and an increase in cardiac events hasn’t been established—until now,” she said.
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Political Party Didn’t Affect Result
Interestingly, the study found that the risk of cardiovascular issues wasn’t affected by whether the subjects supported Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. “We were not able to conclusively show that the election was more stressful for one party over the other because of the size of our study,” said Rosman. “Risk of heart events increased for people no matter their political affiliation, race or gender. But we did see that registered Democrats experienced nearly twice as many heart events as Republicans, which is a trend we would like to explore further.”
Rosman said she would like to do a similar study on how the 2020 election affected heart rhythms. And to get through life at your healthiest, don’t miss: This Supplement Can Raise Your Cancer Risk, Experts Say.