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Anger and Its Effects on the Heart

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Hot tempered angry individuals have an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, doctors say.

Chronic anger, whether one’s wrath is bottled inside or spurting out onto others, can lead to high blood pressure, a leading cause of heart disease.

Considered one of the controllable risk factors of heart disease, the American Psychological Association says, anger can increase heart rate, blood pressure, and the energy hormones, adrenaline and noradrenalin.

With one in three adults suffering from high blood pressure, many cases undiagnosed says the American Heart Association, hypertension causes the heart to work harder than normal to pump the same amount of blood through the body.

While high blood pressure affects numerous bodily functions, it is a major cause of atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is the deposit of fatty substances that build up in the artery lining causing them to harden, says the AHA. This buildup is called plaque.

This plaque can reduce blood flow, rupture causing a heart attack, or become blocked and cause a stroke.

As a Harvard Health Publications article read, “Atherosclerosis seems to advance faster in people who score high on anger or hostility scales.”

Similarly, As Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network Cardiologist Gerald Pytlewski said on the website, “Anger may increase the amount of certain hormones that cause plaque to build up in our arteries. That in itself is a heart disease risk factor.”

He also says, “Women’s smaller blood vessels may put them at a higher risk, because plaque can build up more quickly.”

Knowing there is a correlation between anger and cardiac risks, Director of the Behavioral Medicine Program at Columbia Medical Center Dr. Richard Sloan said on the Department of Surgery website, “We also have good reason to believe that well established hostility-reducing techniques can reduce the incidence of heart events for people with heart disease.”

As the American Psychological Association says, there are many methods to manage one’s anger.

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