Anger is a normal human emotion and can serve a useful purpose, but if you frequently “blow your top,” it may affect your heart health.
“Anger causes a flood of adrenaline, preparing your body for danger by raising blood pressure, heart rate and breathing, and making blood more likely to clot,” said Jeremy Warner, DO, from Samaritan Cardiology – Corvallis. “This can weaken artery walls and raise the risk for heart disease.”
Research suggests that in the two hours after an angry outburst, the risk of angina, heart attack, stroke or a risky heart rhythm increases.
“The best ways to prevent heart disease are to control risk factors like smoking, blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, exercise and diabetes,” said Dr. Warner. “However, our emotions impact health, so attending to stress is also important.”
Studies show that chronic stress — which can include strong emotions like anger, anxiety and depression — can hurt the heart.
“If we are on high alert for an extended period of time, it takes a toll on the body,” said Dr. Warner. “It’s important to learn constructive ways to express anger and minimize stress.”
Try These Tips from the American Psychological Association:
Detach from the intensity of the moment by counting to 10 or briefly leave the room. Try repeating a mantra to yourself, something like, “Everything will be OK.”
- Avoid “All or Nothing” Thinking
In heated moments, we can think the worst is happening. Usually, it’s not. Tell yourself, “It’s frustrating, but not the end of the world.” Ask yourself if this will matter next year, or even next week.
- Respond Slowly
Don’t say the first thing that pops into your mind. Take a break to get your thoughts in order and allow emotions time to cool off. Consider responding tomorrow or after a workout.
- Get Help
Take an anger management class or talk with a mental health professional to learn techniques to feel more in control of your reactions. Ask your health care provider for resources or a referral.