Can Anger Reduce Your Risk for Heart Disease?

People who are prone to anger can experience high rates of blood pressure and poor physical health. However, according to the results of a recent study, anger may actually protect you from cardiovascular disease (CVD). Dr. Shunichi Nakamura of the Department of Internal Medicine’s Division of Cardiology and Regenerative Medicine at Nippon Medical School in Japan led a study that looked at how anger, anxiety, and depression all affected risk of CVD symptoms or death in a sample of clients who were hospitalized for CVD complications.

Research on CVD has shown that psychosocial risk factors play an important role in future CVD complications and even death. However, different psychological factors have not been examined independently in relation to future complications and death in CVD patients. Therefore, Nakamura looked at how anxiety, anger, and depression all influenced CVD issues in the six-to-30 months following hospital discharge among 414 clients with a history of CVD.

The results revealed that anxiety had very little relation to future CVD issues, but depression was a significant predictor or CVD problems and death in the sample. In fact, 11.1% of the participants had clinical levels of depression at time of initial discharge. Nakamura believes that this rate may not represent the true rate of depression experienced upon admittance to the hospital, as previous research has shown that depression may decrease from intake to discharge. This finding suggests that psychological examination should be conducted at intake to ensure mental health needs are being adequately addressed and to minimize the impact of depression on CVD.

When Nakamura looked at anger, the findings were quite different. “In contrast, high levels of anger appear to protect patients from these adverse outcomes,” said Nakamura. This result is not entirely unexpected, as some research how shown that anger can be beneficial to psychological well-being and can actually act as a protective mechanism for negative outcomes. However, different types of anger, both beneficial and detrimental, were not distinguished in this study. Therefore, although the results of this research suggest anger can have a positive influence on CVD health, future work should aim to disentangle the independent effects of detrimental and beneficial anger on CVD and other aspects of physical health.

Nakamura, Shunichi, et al. (2013). Prognostic value of depression, anxiety, and anger in hospitalized cardiovascular disease patients for predicting adverse cardiac outcomes. The American Journal of Cardiology 111.10 (2013): 1432. ProQuest.Web.

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  • trey


    September 3rd, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    Not sure that I follow here- I would have thought that being angry would increase the chances for heart disease. I know people who are mad all the time and I am forever saying about them that they are going to have a coronary any time now! The one benefit that I can see is that they aren’t holding it in though, they are processing it all and getting out all of that negativity so I guess that is actually benefitting them but maybe making the rest of us feel like crap.

  • Nigel


    September 4th, 2013 at 3:45 AM

    I don’t lose my cool too often, and I guess you could probably say that I am most likely to hold my feelings inside me. That’s the way I was raised. Never let them see you sweat I suppose.
    But after reading this it did strike me just how good it does feel to let yourself go every now and then, to release some of that pressure that is building up inside and let that emotion out. I like to try to do it in a way that doesn’t hurt someone else, but I am starting to think that the healthier thing overall is to not hold inside and mask your feelings but to instead allow yourself to feel what you are feeling and go with it.
    Just because you are made doesn’t mean that others have to suffer or that you have to take it out on them. Instead find a way to let that anger out on a long run or by writing, but I think that the key is to not allow that anger to continue to build and grow within you and you feeling like you don’t have any sort of outlet for it.

  • ash e

    ash e

    September 5th, 2013 at 3:54 AM

    If I were asked to give my two cents worth ( and I have not been but just wanted to say it anyway) I would say that getting that anger out could be good, but consistently walking around mad and angry cannot be healthy for the heart.

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