Angry people at high risk of ‘fatal’ heart problems warns study

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Anger is a common thing and can be a healthy indicator of issues that need solving. But too much anger can become bad for health. Angry people – who often have intense rage and fury – are even at higher risk of severe heart problems, research has suggested over the years.

Anger puts the body on high alert. When you’re angry, there is a “flood” of adrenaline that has a huge effect on your body.

Your blood pressure, heart rate and breathing raise, which makes “blood more likely to clot”, Doctor Jeremy Warner of Samaritan Cardiology said.

“This can weaken artery walls and raise the risk for heart disease,” he added.

One study, published in the European Heart Journal, found that a person’s risk of a heart attack increased by nearly five times in the two hours immediately after the outburst. The study, which looked at 4,546 cases of heart attack, suggested that a higher heart rate and blood pressure may be the cause.

In response to the study, Senior Cardiac Nurse, Doireann Maddock of the British Heart Foundation said in 2014: “Learning how to relax can help you move on from high-pressure situations. Many people find that physical activity can help let off steam. Talk to your GP if you’re worried about stress.”

An early study also showed that being an angry person overall – known as having “trait anger” – puts you at higher risk of a heart “fatal coronary heart disease”.

People with trait anger “have rage and fury more often, more intensely, and with longer-lasting episodes”, it explained.

The study stated that this “long-term exposure” to anger and its physical consequences might make people with trait anger “particularly susceptible to CHD”.

Anger can be managed to reduce the intensity or frequency of outbursts.

Certain events can trigger people to become angry. But how intensely angry they become may depend on how they perceive the situation.

Two people can perceive the same situation in completely different ways, which leads one to become angrier than the other. For example, if somebody doesn’t hold the door open, this could be viewed either as a lack of respect or as a sign that the person is concerned with their own activities. The person who viewed the behaviour as a lack of respect is likely to get angry.

The American Psychological Association recommends that you “change the way you think” if you are struggling with stress or anger.

It said: “Through a technique known as cognitive restructuring, you can replace unhelpful negative thoughts with more reasonable ones.

“Instead of thinking ‘Everything is ruined,’ for example, tell yourself ‘This is frustrating, but it’s not the end of the world.’”

It added: “Use logic. Even when it’s justified, anger can quickly become irrational. Remind yourself that the world is not out to get you. Do this each time you start feeling angry, and you’ll get a more balanced perspective.”

But help is available if you find it difficult to deal with your anger. Your GP may be able to refer you to a local anger-management programme or counselling.

The American Psychological Association explains: “A typical anger management programme may involve one-to-one counselling and working in a small group.

“A programme may be a one-day or weekend course, or over a couple of months.”

Most anger management is based on cognitive behavioural therapy, which works to replace negative beliefs with more empowering ones.

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