There have been few studies exploring the link between short bouts of anger and cardiovascular events (in the hours following the outburst), but the evidence is consistently showing a direct relationship.
There were nine independent studies which when combined showed that the risk of heart attack (or acute coronary syndrome) was 4.74-fold higher in the hours after an angry outburst. Certainly, if the angry outbursts are becoming more frequent, the transient effects may accumulate leading to a larger, more ominous event (like a heart attack or stroke).
The increased risk of a cardiac event was increased for individuals who had a greater cardiovascular risk initially.
It is thought that anger can cause increase in circulating catecholamines, increase the heart’s need for oxygen, cause heart blood vessels to spasm, and increase platelet’s ability to make a clot.
There are studies that show that behavioral changes MAY ACTUALLY WORK!
- One study was a group-based psychosocial intervention designed to reduce stress. This intervention cut mortality among women with heart disease.
- Another studied showed that cognitive behavioral therapy–focused on stress management—lowered the risk of recurrent cardiovascular events in both men and women who had established heart disease.
Certainly, managing cardiovascular risks (smoking , high blood pressure, elevated blood sugars, obesity) is best to help decrease baseline cardiovascular disease AND we are seeing more information that managing stress may help avoid cardiovascular events, too!