Getting Angry Damages Endothelium And Can Lead To Heart Disease and Atherosclerosis, Study Shows

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Anger, a powerful emotion, can have negative impacts, particularly on heart health. Whether it arises from traffic incidents or conflicts with others, controlling anger is essential to avoid harm to cardiovascular health.

Getting angry could damage blood vessel lining

Researchers from Columbia University have found that intense anger can lead to temporary damage to the endothelium, the lining of blood vessels. The endothelium is crucial for regulating various functions such as blood clotting, plaque buildup, inflammation levels, and vessel relaxation and constriction.

A well-maintained endothelium is crucial for maintaining the flexibility and smoothness of your blood vessels, facilitating unrestricted blood flow. When the endothelium is compromised, it can pave the way for the accumulation of plaque, arterial hardening (atherosclerosis), clot formation, inflammation, and various issues that heighten the risk of heart disease.

In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers investigated the impact of different emotional states on heart health. They recruited 280 healthy young adults and divided them into groups. One group engaged in an eight-minute “anger recall” task, while others experienced tasks inducing anxiety, sadness, or neutral emotions.

The researchers measured participants’ endothelial function before and after these tasks, assessing blood vessel relaxation and blood flow, indicators of healthy endothelial cells. They also examined levels of circulating cell debris and endothelial repair cells to monitor potential damage or healing processes.

Anger results in impaired endothelial function

Participants who recalled anger demonstrated impaired endothelial function, causing their blood vessels to remain constricted for up to 40 minutes post-task. Anxiety and sadness groups did not exhibit similar outcomes.

The researchers suggest that among negative emotions, anger stands out for its detrimental effects on the endothelium. It induces intense physiological stress responses, disrupts nitric oxide levels necessary for vessel relaxation, fosters inflammation and oxidative stress leading to cell damage, and elevates levels of endothelin-1, a potent vessel constrictor.

The study didn’t explore long-term anger effects, but suggested that frequent outbursts might lead to endothelial injuries, possibly contributing to atherosclerosis and heart disease later on.

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