“Grumpy old men” have triple the risk of heart disease”
Can anger harm the heart?
The answer is yes – at least if you’re an older white American male, according to an unusual study in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.
Scientists found a long-term (over seven years) link between anger and heart disease in a study of 1,305 men with an average age of 62. “Angry” men described themselves as “…irritable, hot-headed and sometimes feeling like swearing or smashing things”. Such men had a three-times-higher risk of heart disease than older men with the lowest anger levels. The study also shows that the greater the anger, the higher the risk of heart attack or chest pain. If you recognize yourself here, please try to control your anger. Not only could you live longer, you’ll be easier to live with.
Comedy Break – Laugh at Stress
Set aside some time for laughter, your body’s natural stress-release mechanism. Rent your favourite comedy video. Tape a TV show that you know makes you laugh and keep it on hand for stress emergencies. Go to the library and borrow a book by an author who can make you laugh. Read the daily comics in the newspaper or phone the funniest person you know!
Depression: new risk factor
Recent studies have shown that people with depression are more than twice as likely to get high blood pressure, a major cause of heart disease. People with depression are also four times more likely to have a heart attack.
Another study shows how hopelessness can speed up the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Atherosclerosis is a major cause of heart disease and stroke. This four-year study of 512 middle-aged men in eastern Finland showed that men who reported high levels of hopelessness developed thickening of the lining of their carotid arteries (large arteries in the neck) 15% faster than men with low to moderate scores of hopelessness. This means that being depressed has the same risk as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
The message is that “people must recognize how important their psychological state is in relation to their physical health,” said doctor, who led the Health Institute study.
Lower stress by handling family conflict
Emotional stress and anger caused by arguments with family members can affect a patient’s recovery from heart disease. A recent study found that strong family support usually relieves stress and depression, but if relationships are stormy, stress can increase. Learning to cope with conflict may be as important as a healthy diet and regular exercise for patients with heart disease.
Researchers recommend that conflict resolution training (how to deal with fights) should be included in the management of heart disease. Such training can help patients improve their emotional state. One skill taught during this training is “dialoguing”. In dialoguing, the two people having the argument take turns speaking for five minutes without interruption. After each speaker is finished, the listener sums up what the speaker had said without criticizing. Dialoguing is a way to discuss problems and keep emotions from getting out of hand.