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Understanding the Connection Between Anger and Heart Attacks - Part 1

July 15, 2013

There are many phrases that link the heart with sadness, but recent studies have shown there are just as many connections between anger and heart health. When someone feels angry and says that something makes their 'blood boil,' that person may be exaggerating, but anger does have unhealthy effects on the cardiovascular system.

Reuters interviewed cardiologist Dr. James O'Keefe Jr. and he said:

anger and heart attacks"Anger is an emotion that releases the fight-or-flight-response chemicals epinephrine and norepinephrine….Those hormones raise our blood pressure, our pulse, constrict blood vessels, make blood platelets stickier (increasing the risk of blood clots), which… could be one way anger may be associated with increased heart risk."

This does not mean you need to fear a heart attack simply because you feel angry. It does mean that you can help yourself when you find healthy ways to manage your anger so you can lessen the negative effects on your cardiovascular system.

Here are some suggestions for managing your anger:

Take a break: There are situations where you cannot immediately relax to calm your anger but you may be able to step away, count to 10 or take some deep breaths. Just a few moments to calm down can make a difference in how you feel and how you react.

Exercise: Exercise can calm the mind and body. For some, it helps to participate in vigorous exercise like running or an aerobics class. Others may find that a long walk is soothing. Your workout method can vary but taking the time to exercise will help to soothe your anger and keep you from overtaxing your heart.

Think of solutions: If you can break through the pattern of dwelling on what has made you so angry, you can try to write down possible solutions. If it helps, brainstorm and write down all your ideas, no matter how far-fetched.



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