WAAJIDPRESS – 7 Feb 2013:
So how exactly does anger contribute to heart disease? Scientists don’t know for sure, but anger might produce direct physiological effects on the heart and arteries. Emotions such as anger and hostility quickly activate the “fight or flight response,” in which stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, speed up your heart rate and breathing and give you a burst of energy. Blood pressure also rises as your blood vessels constrict.
While this stress response mobilizes you for emergencies, it might cause harm if activated repeatedly. “You get high cortisol and high adrenaline levels and that is the cardiotoxic effect of anger expression,” says Jerry Kiffer, MA, a heart-brain researcher at the Cleveland Clinic’s Psychological Testing Center. “It causes wear and tear on the heart and cardiovascular system.” Frequent anger may speed up the process of atherosclerosis, in which fatty plaques build up in arteries, Kiffer says. The heart pumps harder, blood vessels constrict, blood pressure surges, and there are higher levels of glucose in the blood and more fat globules in the blood vessels. All this, scientists believe, can cause damage to artery walls.
And anger might not be the only culprit. In Kubzansky’s own research, she found that high levels of anxiety and depression may contribute to heart disease risk, too. “They tend to co-occur,” she says. “People who are angry a lot tend to have other chronic negative emotions as well.”
Recognizing signs that you’re getting angry and shifting your frame of mind will help, says Wayne Sotile, PhD, author of Thriving With Heart Disease. The next time you feel your anger — and heart rate — rising, try these coping statements to get a grip fast:
1. “I can’t accomplish anything by blaming other people, even if they are responsible for the problem. I’ll try another angle.”
2. “Will this matter five years from now? (Five hours? Five minutes?)”
“If I’m still angry about this tomorrow, I’ll deal with it then. But for now, I’m just going to cool off.”
3. “Acting angry is not the same as showing that I care.”