Have you ever been angry about your partner’s habitual lateness? How about your grandkid’s messy bedroom or the guy who cut you off in the grocery parking lot? So steamed that you’re ready to blow your top?
You need to de-stress and find yourself some zen. Not just for your sanity, but for your heart.
After looking at decades of evidence linking anger with cardiovascular issues, Harvard University researchers recently found that within two hours of any outburst, there is a higher risk of heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular outcomes.
Considered the first of its kind, their systematic review – published in the European Heart Journal – took into account studies that made a correlation between anger and a host of cardiovascular issues between January 1966 and June 2013. From the results of the nine particular studies, researchers put together and re-examined data on 5,000 heart attacks, 800 strokes and 300 cases of ventricular arrhythmia – or an abnormal heartbeat.
They worked out that the annual rate of heart attacks out of 10,000 people, who are angry just once every month (honestly, just once a month?!), increases slightly among those with a low cardiovascular risk, and by nearly five in those who have a higher cardiovascular risk. Still, for those who exhibited at least five outbursts of anger every day, this figure rises to 158 additional heart attacks for those with low cardiovascular risk, and 657 extra heart attacks for those with a high cardiovascular risk.
In other words, an angry person with a history of heart problems is five times more likely to suffer a heart attack than someone who is not. Meanwhile, the risk of stroke is more than three-fold in the couple of hours following any outburst. The chance of developing other heart problems, such as a ventricular arrhythmia, a myocardial infarction (MI) and an acute coronary syndrome (ACS), goes up, too, especially for those who are frequently angered.
Traditionally, anger can bring about heart issues through inflammation and changes in your blood flow, both subtle and dramatic. “Although the risk of experiencing an acute cardiovascular event with any single outburst of anger is relatively low, the risk can accumulate for people with frequent episodes of anger,” lead researcher Dr. Elizabeth Mostofsky told Medical News Today. “This is particularly important for people who have higher risk due to other underlying risk factors or those who have already had a heart attack, stroke or diabetes.”
In order to “heal a hostile heart,” researchers stressed the need to prevent such high-risk outbursts. Some handy how-tos are as follows:
*Try meditating or just counting to 10 before reacting to tense situations
*Express your frustrations in non-confrontational ways
*Participate in physical activities to let out the steam
*Identify possible solutions to issues at hand
*Merely thinking before speaking during those heated, vexing moments can be invaluable.
Learning to manage your anger before you blow will protect your heart and your overall heath – and keep your friends and your spouse, too, breathing easier!