Story at a glance
- A new study found that stress from the 2016 presidential election was associated with an uptick in irregular heart rhythms among people with underlying conditions.
- Researchers studied the data from cardiac devices of nearly 2,500 people living in North Carolina in October and November 2016.
- The researchers selected their sample from patients “who were enrolled in remote monitoring programs at 2 large centers in North Carolina” as the state was a particularly contentious election battleground in 2016.
A new study published Thursday in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that stress from the 2016 presidential election was associated with an uptick in irregular heart rhythms among people with underlying conditions.
Researchers studied the “cardiac device data” of nearly 2,500 people living in North Carolina in October and November 2016. The group found a 77-percent increase in cardiac arrhythmias — irregular heartbeats — during a six week “hazard period” from Oct. 25 to Dec. 6, 2016 — compared to the control period, which occurred from June 1 to July 12.
Overall, 2,592 arrhythmic events occurred in 655 patients during the hazard period, according to the researchers. Meanwhile, there were 1,533 events in 472 patients throughout the control period.
“American politics are stressful. I think for many Americans, the 2016 US presidential election in particular was very stressful, due to the unprecedented levels of anxiety, animosity, and partisan rhetoric throughout the campaign and the polarized reactions to the election results,” said Lindsey Rosman, an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, according to CNN.
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The group set out “determine whether the stress of a contentious political election” would increase arrhythmias in patients with underlying conditions.
“There has been considerable speculation that mental stress from political elections may have adverse effects on population health, as a higher incidence of acute cardiovascular events, including potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias, has been reported following natural disasters, national tragedies, and other large‐scale population stressors,” the researchers wrote in their findings.
The researchers selected their sample from adults “who were enrolled in remote monitoring programs at 2 large centers in North Carolina” because the state was a particularly contentious battleground in 2016.
“Thus, this cohort was uniquely well suited to investigate the association between a stressful political election and the short‐term risk of arrhythmia,” the researchers added.
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