Getting angry is a natural response to life's daily problems and frustrations, but it's important to express emotion appropriately. In addition to increasing your blood pressure and heart rate, anger triggers the release of hormones called catecholamines, which play a role in the development of atherosclerosis.

Several studies have shown that violent outbursts (involving shouting or physical gestures) can up your risk of heart disease and raise the likelihood of a heart attack just hours later. Here's how to keep your anger in check—for your heart's sake:

  • Don't hold it in Research shows that bottling up anger is just as damaging as explosive outbursts. Express your feelings—but learn to do so constructively.
  • Take a time-out Before reacting, calm down for a moment. Breathe deeply, slowly repeating a word or phrase like "relax" or "take it easy." Visualizing a soothing place can also be helpful.
  • Be rational People who express anger in a healthy way have a lower risk of heart disease than those who blame or brood. Try to understand the other person's point of view before responding. Then think logically about the situation and respond assertively, not aggressively.
  • Avoid dramatics The risk of having a heart attack is especially high when you shout, curse, make a fist or point a finger at your adversary.

From our sister publication Diabetes Focus, Fall 2013

Publication Review By: Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D.

Published: 08 Aug 2013

Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013