Health

Anger can increase risk of heart attacks, study finds: ‘Chronic insult to arteries’

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Feeling angry for as little as eight minutes a day could increase your risk of experiencing a cardiac event, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (AHA).

The study included 280 healthy young adults without a history of heart disease, stroke, serious mental health problems or other chronic illnesses, according to an AHA press release.

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Participants first spent 30 minutes in a relaxed state, while doctors measured their blood pressure, blood vessel health and other cardiac measurements.

Then, participants were randomly assigned eight-minute tasks, while heart-related metrics were tracked.

Feeling angry for as little as eight minutes a day could increase your risk of experiencing a cardiac event, a new study suggests. (iStock)

A group was asked to think about experiences that provoke anger.

A second group was asked to recall memories that triggered anxiety.

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A third group was tasked with reading passages that made them sad – and the final group was simply asked to count out loud to achieve a neutral state of mind.

Among those asked to recall anger-provoking memories, the dilation of their blood vessels was reduced by 50% within 40 minutes of the task, putting them at higher risk of heart attack or stroke.

The restricted dilation was temporary, but experts expressed concern that longer duration of anger could have more detrimental effects.

Screaming man

“Anger likely increases cortisol levels, which, in turn, increases blood pressure and could likely decrease vascular dilation,” one expert warned. (iStock)

“We showed that if you get angry once, it impairs your ability to dilate,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Daichi Shimbo, a cardiologist and co-director of the medical center’s Hypertension Center. Irving from Columbia University in New York. release.

“But what happens if you get angry 10,000 times in your lifetime? This chronic insult to your arteries can eventually lead to permanent damage.”

Anxiety and sadness did not have the same effect.

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Elizabeth Sharp, MD, founder and director of Health Meets Wellness in New York, New York, was not involved in the study but said the results were “not particularly surprising.”

“Anger likely increases cortisol levels, which, in turn, increases blood pressure and could probably decrease vascular dilation,” she told Fox News Digital.

Angry woman driving

“This study showed that anger can cause acute, measurable changes in blood vessel function, which could harm long-term cardiovascular health,” said one doctor. (iStock)

“It’s a well-known adage that ‘stress kills,’ and there are many physiological explanations for this,” she continued.

“However, I would say it is more of a chronic stress, or a stress response could reveal an underlying illness, such as coronary artery disease (CAD), that was already present.”

“There are three main ways to deal with anger: expressing it, repressing it, or calming it.”

Dr. Jim Liu, a cardiologist from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, also provided external input into the study.

“Psychosocial factors play an important role in cardiovascular disease because the body’s nervous system plays an important role in regulating the heart and blood vessels,” he told Fox News Digital.

“This study showed that anger can cause acute, measurable changes in blood vessel function, which could harm long-term cardiovascular health.”

man angry with laptop

People can reduce their risk of heart attack by finding healthy ways to manage their anger, experts say. (iStock)

The findings are a reminder that there are many factors that influence heart health, Liu noted.

“We all know about the traditional risk factors, like smoking, high cholesteroldiabetes and high blood pressure – and with this study, perhaps there should also be more emphasis on mental health and psychosocial factors.

7 Smart Strategies for Dealing with Anger

People can reduce their risk of heart attack by finding healthy ways to manage their anger, experts say.

“There are three main ways to deal with anger: express it, suppress it, or calm it down,” said Dr. Gary Small, chair of the department of psychiatry at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.

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“When we suppress our anger, we hold it in and force ourselves to focus on something – often positive thoughts – to distract us,” he continued.

“One of the potential pitfalls of suppressing anger is that it fester and can raise blood pressure and lead to depression.”

Woman meditating

Research has shown that daily meditation improves mood and cognitive function, according to a cardiologist. (iStock)

Dr. Small shared the following seven strategies to help people deal with anger.

1. Recognize your triggers

Try to become aware of what triggers angry feelings, Small advised.

“For some people, being ignored bothers them, while others have a hard time accepting criticism,” he told Fox News Digital.

“When you identify what triggers you, you will be better equipped to control your anger.”

2. Learn to relax

According to Small, research has shown that daily meditation improves mood and cognitive function.

“This strategy involves regulating our behavior when we are angry by controlling our internal physiological responses like muscle tension and breathing,” explained the doctor.

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“Recognizing your triggers gives you insight into when to calm down and relax through deep, slow breathing, evoking serene mental images and meditation.”

3. Think twice before erupting

“Because of the negative health and social effects of uncontrolled expressions of anger, try to avoid outbursts,” Small advised.

“Rather than exploding, pause and remember what triggered your aggression.”

4. Be physical

Exercising regularly — maybe even hitting a punching bag at the gym — can help reduce anger-induced stress, Small said.

Group of people running

Exercising regularly can help reduce anger-induced stress, a doctor said. (iStock)

5. Change your thinking

“If you find yourself in a fit of rage, you may not be thinking clearly, because your brain’s amygdala (emotional control center) overtakes its frontal lobe (reasoning center),” Small said.

Try replacing your angry thoughts with rational ones, the doctor suggested.

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“Also keep in mind that your anger will not solve the current problem or frustration,” he added.

6. Learn to communicate your needs

Taking an anger management class can help those who tend to “fly off the handle,” Small said, while assertiveness training can help people who suppress their anger learn to communicate their needs. to others.

Support group

Taking an anger management course can help those who tend to “lose their minds”, a cardiologist has said. (iStock)

7. Consider professional help

“Anger issues may reflect other underlying issues mental health problemslike anxiety or depression,” Small noted.

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Seeing a mental health professional can help people identify underlying issues and manage anger more constructively.

Fox News Digital has contacted the study authors for additional comment on their findings.

For more health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.

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