If you knew that frequent anger might raise your risk of heart disease significantly, would you continue to blow off steam by yelling and smashing things during an argument or getting furious if the office email crashes during a rushed, stressful day?
Anger hurts your heart, in more ways than the obvious. Yellers, ragers, and door slammers beware – frequent high levels of anger have now been linked to heart disease. You already know the effect stress and emotions have on your health.
Not saying that you should not get angry at all – after all, it is a natural response and often healthy at reasonable levels. But explosive people who hurl objects or scream at others may be at greater risk for heart disease. In fact either end of the continuum is problematic.
People who are angry a lot tend to have other chronic negative emotions as well and this leads to a plethora of cardiovascular conditions. Anger and hostility are significantly associated with more heart problems in initially healthy people, as well as a worse outcome for patients already diagnosed with heart disease.
Research shows that chronically angry or hostile adults with no history of heart trouble might be 19% more likely than their more placid peers to develop heart disease.
So – anger as a heart disease risk factor can be modified, just as people can lower their cholesterol or blood pressure. Doctors are really good at treating heart attacks, but they are not that good at preventing them!
Got a hair-trigger temper? Counseling and anger management might help in the long term, but what can you do for a quick fix?
Recognizing signs that you’re getting angry and shifting your frame of mind will help. The next time you feel your anger, and heart rate, rising, try these coping statements to get a grip fast:
- I can’t accomplish anything by blaming other people, even if they are responsible for the problem. I’ll try another angle.
- 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.
- Acting angry is not the same as showing that I care.
So -dear hot heads, Take heed. A change of mind can lead to a change of heart (not necessarily a transplant!) It really is in your hands.