Posted on Mon, 8 Mar 10
Anger has been linked to an increased risk of fatal heart disease, however research has been paradoxical. In some studies anger increased risk while in others it was protective. Theses difference may be due to differences in how anger is expressed, whether it is a constructive adaption to a problem, or simply used to blame others.
The different faces of anger
To find out whether different types of anger related to subsequent risk of heart disease a group of men and women were assessed for their anger type and incidence of heart disease over 10 years (1). Anger was divided into constructive and deconstructive types. “Constructive anger” was characterised by dealing directly with the person with whom they were upset to resolve the situation or seeking help from others to constructively deal with their anger. “Destructive anger” on the other hand was characterised by holding grudges, brooding, directing the blame at others and not taking personal responsibility to resolve the situation.
Healthy mind, healthy body
Destructive anger was associated with increased risk of hospital admission for fatal and non fatal heart disease over a 10 year period in both men and women. Constructive anger was found to be protective in men, but not women, a difference that may be due to the different ways in which men and women express anger. This finding suggests that constructively dealing with anger (especially for men) and avoiding discussions of anger that pass the blame and justify angry feelings is important for reducing the negative physical effects of a negative state of mind.
1. Davidson KW, Mostofsky E. Anger expression and risk of coronary heart disease: evidence from the Nova Scotia Health Survey. Am Heart J. 2010 Feb;159(2):199-206.
2. Davidson K, Macgregor MW, Stuhr J, Gidron Y. Increasing constructive anger verbal behavior decreases resting blood pressure: a secondary analysis of a randomized controlled hostility intervention. Int J Behav Med. 1999;6(3):268-78.