Can Anger spike heart attack risk?

Can Anger Spike Heart Attack Risk?

Anger is an emotion that we’re all too familiar with. Maybe someone took your parking spot, or you discovered a friend is talking about you behind your back. There are many things that can make us angry, and when these feelings go out of control, it could potentially increase your risk of a heart attack. We’re going to consider how anger affects your body and the way it could contribute to a heart attack in this article.

What Does Anger Do To Your Body?

To truly understand whether anger can affect your heart attack risk, it’s important to first understand what happens to your body when you become angry.

Anger is an emotion that triggers your body’s natural fight-or-flight response. Once you’re in this mode, your body is constantly releasing cortisol and adrenaline. Your heart rate starts to increase, and so does your blood pressure.

The fight or flight response also causes you to experience muscle tension, an increase in your body temperature, and skin perspiration.

While feeling angry now and then shouldn’t be a problem, there are people who have issues with managing their anger. This can lead to uncontrolled anger, which causes your body to remain in this fight-or-flight mode for long periods of time. Your body is constantly exposed to cortisol, which can also cause issues like inflammation.

Long-term, anger increases your risk of hypertension and anxiety. You may also notice that you experience headaches on a regular basis.

How Can Anger Increase Your Heart Attack Risk?

There are several studies that have looked at the potential link between anger and cardiovascular problems, with a particular focus on heart attacks.

One study wanted to see the effects of short anger outbursts on the cardiovascular system. After considering several patient reports and previous study results, the researchers were able to confirm that even these short outbursts can have lasting effects. The rate of cardiovascular events, including heart attacks, was considered significantly higher in the first two hours after the outburst.

There are several reasons why this happens. It’s important to consider that anger causes your blood pressure to rise, and this is already something that greatly increases your risk of cardiovascular events. The rise in blood pressure puts more stress on your arteries, which can lead to lasting damage. As arteries are damaged, it’s harder for blood to move properly throughout your body.

One study also noticed a link between amygdalar activity and cardiovascular events. Amygdalar activity refers to a specific part of the brain that’s involved with emotions. This provided further evidence that anger’s impact on amygdalar activities can trigger problems like inflammation in the arteries and even result in an increase in C-reactive proteins in your body.

Keeping Your Cool When Anger Strikes

We’ve established that anger can actually impact your risk of having a heart attack. That’s why it’s important to learn how you can better control your anger and stay calm when you’re in a frustrating situation.

When you start to feel angry, one of the best things you can do is to take a deep breath. This gives you a moment to put things into perspective. When you practice deep breathing techniques, you’re going to put your body into a relaxation mode. It’s something that calms the nervous system and helps to bring your heart rate down.

Apart from breathing deeply when you feel angry, it’s also important to try other strategies that help to keep you calm. This can include meditation, yoga, and mindfulness techniques.

If these strategies don’t help, then talk to your doctor. They can not only help you find a good counselor to talk with but will do some tests to determine your overall heart disease risk factors.


Anger could increase your risk of a heart attack, according to several studies. Learning how to keep calm and not allow anger to overtake your emotions is thus an important strategy when it comes to caring for your cardiovascular system.