Angry Today? How Your Temper Could Skyrocket Heart Attack Risk

It’s a well-known fact that more than 2,000 Americans die each day from heart problems. We all strive to keep our hearts healthy by maintaining a good diet, exercising regularly, and managing stress. But did you know that there is one bad habit, in particular, that can greatly increase the risk of a heart attack? That habit is losing your temper and getting extremely angry. In fact, research has shown that an outburst of anger can multiply your risk of a heart attack by five times. Let’s take a closer look at this habit and ways to manage it for the sake of your heart health.

The Dangers of Anger Outbursts

A study at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, has shown that blowing your top can significantly jeopardize your chances of surviving the day. In the two hours following an anger outburst, the risk of a heart attack magnifies fivefold. This is alarming news for anyone who struggles with managing their anger.

Elizabeth Mostofsky, a researcher and instructor at the Harvard School of Public Health, explained, “There has been a lot of research on anger; we already know it can be unhealthy, but we wanted to quantify the risk, not just for heart attack but for other potentially lethal cardiovascular events as well.” The hope is that understanding these risks will encourage individuals to think about how they manage anger in their everyday lives and prompt physicians to discuss medications and psychosocial supports with patients for whom anger is an issue, especially patients with known cardiovascular risk factors.

The researchers analyzed nine studies of heart attacks and found consistent evidence of a higher risk of cardiovascular events immediately following outbursts of anger. It’s essential to understand that while these results show a significantly higher risk of a cardiovascular event associated with an angry outburst, the overall risk for people without other risk factors like smoking or high blood pressure is relatively small. However, Murray Mittleman, a Harvard associate professor, cautions, “We should be concerned about the occurrence of angry outbursts with our higher risk patients and our patients who have frequent outbursts of anger.”

Strategies for Managing Anger

Now that we know the risks that anger poses to our heart health, it’s essential to manage anger effectively. Here are some strategies for keeping your cool in stressful situations:

Practice Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation practices, such as yoga and deep breathing exercises, can help you become more aware of your emotions, recognize anger triggers, and develop a more balanced response to stressors.

Develop Healthy Coping Skills

Learn healthy ways to cope with stress and frustration, such as engaging in physical activity, getting enough sleep, and maintaining a balanced diet. Healthy coping skills can help you build emotional resilience and reduce the likelihood of anger outbursts.

Communicate Effectively

Practice assertive communication to express your needs and feelings calmly and respectfully. This can help prevent misunderstandings and manage conflicts in a healthy manner.

Seek Professional Help

If your anger is causing problems in your life or affecting your relationships, consider seeking the help of a mental health professional. They can help you develop strategies to manage your anger and improve your overall emotional well-being.

Avoid Triggers and Manage Stress

Identify situations or people that trigger your anger and make a conscious effort to manage or minimize these stressors. Employ stress-management techniques, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or regular physical activity, to keep stress levels in check.

In Conclusion

While occasional anger is a normal human emotion, frequent and intense anger outbursts can be detrimental to your heart health and increase your risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event. By being aware of the risks associated with anger, you can take steps to work on managing your anger and protecting your heart. Consider implementing the strategies mentioned above to manage and cope with anger effectively. Remember, a healthy heart means not just eating well and getting exercise, but also managing your emotions and keeping your cool.