Anger and stress—Bad for the heart

A review of recent studies suggests that anger and stress significantly increase the risk of heart disease. It seems that individuals who are angry and stressed are more likely to develop high blood pressure. In a healthy population, with men and women combined, individuals who experience high levels of anger and stress are 168 per cent* more likely to develop long term heart problems than people with low-tomoderate levels of these emotions.

However, Dr. Louise Pilote, a physician at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), wants to put these results into perspective. “Although, as the studies show, heart disease is influenced to some degree by psychological factors,” says Dr. Pilote, “the latter are relatively minor when compared to the main causes that we already know.” The main risk factors for heart disease are smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes and family history.

In Dr. Pilote’s opinion, there is still a lot of work to be done on the main, known risk factors before worrying about secondary factors like anger and stress. “People who lead healthy, balanced lives are at a lower risk of developing heart problems, and generally have less stress and anger in their daily lives.”

“Obviously, we all need to learn to manage our anger, but people who already have a heart condition may need to consult a therapist to reduce these risk factors.”

*Source: American Academy of Family Physicians (October 1, 2007). “Anger and Stress Contribute To Coronary Heart Disease”. ScienceDaily.