Cochin Cardiac Club

Health Blog by Dr.Uday Nair


Anger is a feeling that affects us allAnger can be a good thing. It can give you a way to express negative feelings, for example, or motivate you to find solutions to problems.
But excessive anger can get out of control and cause problems with relationships, work and even the law.

What happens when you become angry?

When someone becomes angry, their heart rate usually increases; as does their rate of respiration - which also becomes more laboured. Blood pressure rises, the digestive processes are suspended; and as blood is drawn away from the liver, stomach and intestines to flow to the central nervous system and the muscles, the individual's surface temperature rises and they may feel flushed. Their muscles tense, they become agitated, restless - to varying degrees, hyperactive. 

Anger and its adverse effects

  • While tensions arising as a result of isolated, and relatively short bouts of anger can manifest as parietal headaches, backache, or other aches throughout the body, frequently recurring bouts of anger can lead to physical symptoms ranging from dizziness and tinnitus, to hemorrhoids, to high blood-pressure, digestive disorders, and ulcers.
  • More intense, prolonged bouts of anger can cause far more serious problems as well as impacting badly on illnesses/diseases the individual may already be suffering from.
  • The Gall Bladder and Liver are particularly vulnerable to the effects of anger and can be severely weakened by it.
  • During anger episodes, the body increases production of Cortisol, which has the effect of suppressing the immune system, and likewise there is an increase in Adrenaline levels (both Cortisol and Adrenaline can apparently adversely affect the cardiovascular system); thus frequently recurring or prolonged bouts of anger can result in potentially irrevocable overload and breakdown of various bodily systems.
  • Lifestyle factors also come into play. Angry people may take worse care of themselves.People who are chronically distressed may not behave in health-promoting ways.Anxious, depressed, angry people are more likely to smoke, less likely to engage in physical activity, have poor nutritional habits and drink to excess.

Anger,Stress and Heart

  • A recent study indicates that angry men have higher blood pressure and increased risk of heart disease. Long-term stress affected both men and women.The exact mechanism by which anger and stress increase blood pressure and heart disease is not clear. It's possible that those with such personalities are more resistant to medical advice and therapy. It is also possible that an increased activation of the nervous system in angry and stressed people causes greater catecholamine levels, such as adrenaline, to build up and drive up blood pressure.
  • Scientists speculate that anger may produce direct biological effects on the heart and arteries.excessive amounts of stress hormones may speed up the process of atherosclerosis, in which fatty plaques build up in arteries.
  • Anger may also disrupt the electrical impulses of the heart and provoke dangerous heart rhythm disturbances.
  • Anger also causes increase in heart rate,rise in blood pressure,constriction in blood vessels (including coronary arteries)and thickening of the blood(which means the heart has to work harder to circulate it)
  • Other research suggests that stress hormones may lead to higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a substance linked to atherosclerosis and future heart disease risk.

How to express your anger in healthy ways:

  • If you feel out of control, walk away from the situation temporarily, until you cool down.
  • Recognise and accept the emotion as normal and part of life.
  • Try to pinpoint the exact reasons why you feel angry.
  • Once you have identified the problem, consider coming up with different strategies on how to remedy the situation.
  • Do something physical, such as going for a walk or playing a sport.

Regular Exercise

  • People who are stressed are more likely to experience anger. Numerous worldwide studies have documented that regular exercise can improve mood and reduce stress levels. The effect may be twofold: physical exertion burns up stress chemicals, and it also boosts production of mood-regulating neurotransmitters in the brain, including endorphins and catecholamines.

Research has found that "letting rip" with anger actually escalates anger and aggression and does nothing to help you (or the person you're angry with) resolve the situation.
It's best to find out what triggers off your anger, and then devise some strategies to keep those triggers from tipping you over the edge.

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