Mind your Beating Heart

Anger can have a lasting impact on cardiac health, so watch that temper

Published: 30th September 2015 03:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th September 2015 03:31 AM   |  A+A-


Anger can have a cascading effect on health and an uncontrolled heart rate, if not addressed, can be debilitating.

Dr H Chandrashekar, professor and head, department of psychiatry, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, says that anger is a normal emotion but managing it can be a problem for many people. People who fail to recognise signs of excessive anger like an increased heart rate, heavy breathing, tense  shoulders or clenched fists, can run into medical trouble.

“Studies have shown that unresolved anger also contributes to health issues  like high blood pressure, heart attack, depression and anxiety,” says Dr Chandrashekhar.

Anger is actually a secondary emotion and it is supposed to help keep you safe and protect you from danger with a  fight-or-flight reaction. But if it gets out of hand or if you try to ignore it, it can lead to some serious issues. Here’s how to break the chain.

Manage your anger

her.jpgStop it at the first instant: Lots of things can trigger anger.  The important thing is to figure out what is really making you angry.

Is it the same thing every time or do different things bring you to the boiling point? If it is always the same situation, person, or thing, try to avoid conflict. And if you can’t avoid the persons or situations, think of ways that can help you to stay stress free and non-reactive.

Be flexible

To avoid conflict, all you need to do is to try and look at things from someone else’s point of view.  By changing the way you deal with others and understanding their perspective, you can break the chain of reaction and negativity before you even notice that you are getting angry.

Stay calm

Try these ideas to help you stay cool, and collected.

■ Go for a walk.

■ Write down your feelings on a piece of paper, then tear it up and throw it away.

■ Face the mirror and practise talking to the person that you are mad at.

■ Don’t let your anger or other angry people control you.

■ Never use your body or voice to hurt others.

■ Get away from the situation so your feelings don’t overwhelm you.

■ Evaluate your choices. Think before you react.

Remember, you are responsible for your own choices. No one can make you angry unless you allow them to. You can choose not to get angry too.

Dr. Vivek Jawali,  chairman, dept of cardio-vascular science, Fortis Hospitals, Bengaluru, says that when anger strikes us, stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, speed up the heart rate and force the blood pressure rate to go high, thereby increasing the chances of a  heart attack.

Extremely angry people should be offered counselling and also referred to  meditation classes and yoga. This will help them to manage their emotions better.

Some of the events that have triggered anger-related  heart attacks have included arguments with family members and other people, work conflicts, and road rage. Doctors should check heart patients or people at risk of heart disease for anger and anxiety problems as well, say experts.

Yoga and anger

Associate professor of physiology and yoga, S Vyasa Yoga University, Dr Raghavendra Bhat, says that anger consumes love, rationality, and emotional and physical health and scorches everything in its path including friendships, work relationships, marriages and families.

Hence Pranayam is recommended as  it is linked to breath control and can help in regulating breathing and the flow of emotions. “When a person is angry, his breathing is heavy and affects not just the mind but the heart,’’ he says.

Asanas that can help:

Shavasana, or Corpse Pose, is one of the most relaxing positions and can calm body and mind. It releases stress, removes fatigue, addresses depression and eases tension. It also improves concentration, cures insomnia, relaxes your muscles, calms the mind and improves mental health.

Child’s Pose or Balasana is great for strengthening the mind-body connection and for keeping us in touch with how we’re feeling. This is designed specifically to calm the muscles and mind, and is built for relaxation.

This pose releases tension in the back, shoulders and chest, helps alleviate stress and anxiety, lengthens and stretches the spine, normalises circulation throughout the body, stretches muscles, tendons and ligaments in the knee, and encourages strong and steady breathing. 

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