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Friday, February 20, 2015

Frequent Anger Damages The Heart –Study

…It causes wear and tear on the heart and cardiovascular system
If you are one of those that yell and smash things around at every little provocation or get repeatedly furious at every turn of event on a daily basis? then it’s time to keep that temper in check – at least for the sake of your heart! A new study found people who experience severe anger outbursts more at risk for stroke, heart attack and other cardiovascular disease, after two hours of the outburst, compared to those who remained calm. The research published recently in the European Heart Journal, analyzed nine studies of anger outbursts where patients who had had heart attacks, stroke and related problems were reported for over two decades. The studies found that in the two hours after an outburst of anger, the relative risk of heart attack and acute coronary syndrome (ACS) – when the heart muscle doesn’t get enough oxygen-rich blood, increased by nearly five times, while the risk of ischemic stroke and cardiac arrhythmia increased by more than three times.

According to the study, a person with preexisting heart disease or cardiovascular disease has greater risk of incurring an attack, than a person without cardiovascular disease or risk
factors. “If we look at somebody at higher risk for having cardiovascular events, and they get angry multiple times a day, this can lead to 650 extra heart attacks per year out of 10, 000 a year,” says Dr. Murray A. Mittleman, senior study author and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School “When we look at a person who is relatively low risk, but if they do have these episodes of anger fairly frequently, we estimate there would be about 150 extra heart attacks out of 10,000 a year”, he says.

Another compendium of 44 studies published recently in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, also showed that anger and hostility are significantly associated with more heart problems in healthy people, as well as a worse outcome for patients already diagnosed with heart disease. The study showed that chronically angry or hostile adults with no history of heart trouble were 19 percent more likely than their more calm peers to develop heart disease while patients with heart disease, who exhibited angry or hostile temperaments, were 24 percent more likely to have a poor prognosis. The researchers also found that anger and hostility seemed to do more harm to men’s hearts than women’s.
So how exactly does anger contribute to heart disease?. According to experts, while it’s fairly ok to be angry once in a while, it becomes unhealthy when it is done frequently and at high level. “We are talking about people who seem to experience high levels of anger very frequently,” says Laura Kubzansky, PhD, MPH, an associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health in Cambridge, Mass., who has studied the role of stress and emotions on cardiovascular disease.

The key here is “high” levels. Moderate anger may not be the problem, according to Kubzansky. In fact, expressing anger in reasonable ways can be healthy. “Being able to tell people that you’re angry can be extremely functional,” she says. But explosive people who hurl objects or scream at others may be at greater risk for heart disease, as well as those who harbor suppressed rage, she says. “Either end of the continuum is problematic.”
According to Jerry Kiffer, MA, a heartbrain researcher at the Cleveland Clinic’s Psychological Testing Center, emotions such as anger and hostility quickly activate the “fight or flight response,” in which stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, speed up heart rate and breathing and resulting in a burst of energy.
“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 cardio toxic effect of anger expression.
“It causes wear and tear on the heart and cardiovascular system. In fact, frequent anger may speed up the process of atherosclerosis, in which fatty plaques build up in arteries. 

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 these, 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.”

A Nigerian cardiologist and associate professor at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Dr. Amam Mbakwemn agrees with the studies. According to her, emotional stress such as intense anger or pain is capable of altering the way the heart functions and subsequently increases the risk of heart disease.
“When a heart is under emotional stress, it can set up a state of cardiac hyperactivity which can potentially lead to sudden death or cardiac arrest in a predisposed individual”, she warns. Dr, Mbakwem suggests that in order to reduce the risk of heart issues, people should learn to cope with issues, exercise daily, eat healthy and stay away from smoking.


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