People who get angry easily are more likely to have a heart attack, or other heart disease, than their more placid counterparts, according to a recent analysis of more than 40 studies. In addition, the findings of a recent Swedish study suggest that ‘bottling up’ anger may also increase the risk of heart disease.
Although it is not yet known why anger should have this effect on heart health, it has been suggested that anger could promote behaviours (such as poor diet, less physical activity or smoking) that are associated with the risk of having heart disease. It has also been proposed that the production of ‘stress’ hormones may have the effect of narrowing blood vessels, which could trigger a blockage in the coronary arteries, leading to a heart attack.
The harmful effects of anger on heart disease appear to be greater in men than women. If you have a ‘short fuse’ and lose your temper easily, it could have more serious consequences than just upsetting those around you from time to time. Many people can be helped to overcome their anger. Apart from becoming easier to live with, those who succeed might also live longer.
Last Reviewed: 15 January 2010