By Bernard Freeman
Anger can harm your heart
Everyone gets angry sometimes, but you’ve probably noticed that some people lose their tempers more often or at higher degrees of intensity.
People who get angry a lot — and do so at levels where they slam doors, pound tables, throw things or hurt others — are far more likely to experience heart disease than those who are able to express their anger constructively and lose their temper less often. Equally at risk are people who suppress rage and find no way to let it out in a healthy manner.
Research into anger has discovered that those who have existing heart disease are more likely to die from heart problems if they have high rates of hostility and anger. Another study found that middle-aged people who experience intense and frequent anger but have normal blood pressure, were nearly twice as likely to experience coronary artery disease and three times as likely to have a heart attack than those who had low anger levels.
Physical effects of anger
How does anger affect the heart? According to HeartSense in India, anger can:
- Reduce the strength of heart contractions.
- Increase heart rate.
- Increase blood pressure.
But it goes beyond that. According to Harvard researchers, if your body has an excess of the stress hormones that get released when you go into high anger mode, fatty plaque can build up in the arteries and speed the process of atherosclerosis. Anger can cause heart rhythm issues by disrupting the electrical impulses of the heart.
The way people handle anger may be genetic. Scientists refer to “trait anger” as a measure of how a person expresses anger — either in rages or in milder forms. People with high trait anger typically have higher cholesterol and triglycerides in their blood stream. High trait anger has been linked to high blood pressure.
It’s important to understand the different types and levels of anger. Not all anger is bad for the heart. Researchers have found that constructive anger, as compared to destructive anger, can actually reduce your stress, help you relax and calm you down. It’s the healing effect of blowing off steam.
It’s the destructive anger that is a problem. In one small study, people who experienced severe anger were 8.5 times more likely to have a heart attack within two hours.
A Canadian study found out something surprising about the link between anger and heart attack. When someone exercises while angry, they are more likely to have a heart attack, regardless of any other risk factor. Exercise and being angry works together to increase blood pressure while also reducing the amount of blood that goes to the heart muscle.
So, if you find yourself in an intense state of ire, choose something relaxing such as a walk instead of a run. Don’t do anything strenuous.
Getting it under control
Experts say that anger management can help contribute to a healthier heart. Counseling and anger management classes are two options when the problem is severe. However, there are also simpler steps that you can teach yourself, steps such as counting to 10, walking away from a situation and training yourself to counter angry thoughts with coping statements.
Doing so will not only contribute to a healthier heart, but it will likely improve the relations you have with others in your life.
Dangers of Being Sedentary
There are many reasons that the rate of heart disease is climbing and one thing that may put you at greater risk than ever before is sitting.
John Hopkins refers to it as the “sitting disease,” the fact that people are far more sedentary than ever before and this lack of activity increases the risk of heart disease. The body is designed to stand upright and the heart and cardiovascular system work more efficiently when you do.
How much more sedentary are we?
Sedentary jobs are 83% more common now than they were in 1950, according to the American Heart Association. In 1960, about half of all jobs were considered physically active. Now those jobs make up less than 20% of the U.S. work force.
Exercise is only part of the solution
Even people who exercise daily can still be at risk if they spend a lot of time sitting while they commute to and from work or the rest of the day when they aren’t exercising.
One thing Johns Hopkins researchers discovered was that even people committed to fitness fell into the sedentary category. They’d work out for 30 minutes a day, but then sit the rest of the day. This can still cause problems.
Johns Hopkins reported on a review of studies in a 2015 edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine which found that “even after adjusting for physical activity, sitting for long periods was associated with worse health outcomes including heart disease. … Sedentary behavior can also increase your risk of dying, either from heart disease or other medical problems.”
The threshold level appears to be 10 hours of sitting. While doing a lot of exercise at some point during the day reduces your heart attack risk, once you start sitting for 10 hours or more, your risk goes up significantly.
Why sitting is harmful
Why does this happen? Moving muscles aid digestion. When you are sitting, you are more likely to retain the fats and sugar you eat as fat in your body. Sitting for long periods causes metabolic syndrome, which includes obesity, high blood pressure, high blood triglycerides, low levels of HDL cholesterol and insulin resistance.
How risky is all the sitting we do at our desks, in our cars or on our couches? One study discovered that men who watch more than 23 hours of television a week are 64% more likely to die from heart disease than those who only watch 11 hours a week.
Overall, experts say that people who sit a lot are 147% more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke.
Researchers recommend 60 to 75 minutes a day of moderate activity to counteract the dangers of sitting too much.