the past it was believed that the connection between heart health and mental
health was behavioral, due to habits like alcoholism, smoking and so on. But it
is becoming evident that the biological
and chemical factors that are triggered in mental disorders could affect the
‘Practicing mental wellness through meditation and relaxation techniques will not only help tame the mind and control extreme emotions, but it can also benefit physical health by lowering blood pressure and maintaining healthy heart rate.’
conducted a large international study and found that when a person experiences
, he/she is twice
as likely to develop a heart attack within one hour. The same holds true to
heavy physical exertion. The new findings are published in the American Heart
Association's journal Circulation
association was stronger, with triple the risk of developing a heart
if the person engaged in heavy physical exertion while
experiencing anger or emotional upset.
"This large, nearly worldwide study
provides more evidence of the crucial link between mind and body," said
Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D., an American Heart Association volunteer and director
of behavioral sciences at the Crozer-Keystone Family Medicine Residency Program
in Springfield, Pennsylvania.
is a very powerful emotion which is necessary for survival. It is a natural and
conditioned response to a perceived threat or harm. It becomes problematic when
it starts to affect or interfere with the individual's daily life-activities,
relationship with others, feelings and behavior.
varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage. When a
person gets angry, it increases heart rate, blood pressure and brings about
changes in the level of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. This can impact
the blood pressure and heart rate. Excess anger, under the wrong conditions, can cause a life-threatening
Anger can be
with in three ways:
- Dealing with
anger by being assertive and not aggressive is the ideal way to express
it. In this process, you are respectful to yourself and others.
- Suppressing anger should be ideally
done by directing your thoughts towards something positive and forgetting
about the trigger. But this unexpressed anger can always take a toll on your
physical as well as emotional health.
- Engaging in
techniques to calm yourself, to lower heart rate and let the feelings
"Previous studies have explored these
heart attack triggers; however, they had fewer participants or were completed
in one country, and data are limited from many parts of the world," said
Andrew Smyth, M.D., Ph.D., study lead author and a researcher at the Population
Health Research Institute at McMaster University in Canada, and at the HRB
Clinical Research Facility in Galway, Ireland. "This is the first study to
represent so many regions of the world, including the majority of the world's
major ethnic groups".
study, researchers analyzed data from 12,461 people with an average of 58
years. These patients had participated in INTERHEART-a study consisting of
patients with first ever heart attacks across 52 countries.
participants were given a questionnaire which asked about any triggers that
they had experienced within one hour of the heart attack. They were also asked
if they had experienced any triggers in the same one hour period on the
previous day of the heart attack.
appeared to independently increase a person's heart attack risk beyond those posed by other risk factors, including age, smoking, obesity, high
blood pressure and other health problems. Extreme emotional
and physical triggers are thought to have similar effects on the body.
"Both can raise blood pressure
and heart rate, changing the flow of blood through blood vessels and reducing
blood supply to the heart" Smyth said.
"This is particularly important in blood vessels already narrowed by
plaque, which could block the flow of blood leading to a heart attack."
is the lateral pressure exerted by the blood against the
walls of the arteries. The blood pressure is the highest when the heart pumps
blood into the arteries and lowest when the heart relaxes. A normal blood
pressure reading is 120/80mm Hg.
A reading of 140/90mm Hg or higher is
considered high. Many years of high blood pressure or hypertension can damage
walls of the arteries making them stiff and narrow. The arteries carrying blood
to the heart also becomes affected and it reduces the blood flow to the heart
triggering heart attack.
People who are at risk for a heart
attack should avoid extreme emotional situations. One way many cope with the emotional ups and downs of a health
condition is through peer support and talking with
others who are facing similar challenges. This can be very
helpful in better management of emotions.
Regular physical activity has many
health benefits, including the prevention of heart disease
so one should continue to engage in such activities. However, it
is recommended that a person who is angry or upset should not go beyond their normal exercise routine
to extremes of activity, just to blow off the steam.
Tips for a Healthy Heart
- Participants had to recall their
triggers. After a heart attack, a person may be more inclined to say they
experienced a trigger than they otherwise would be.
- Participants were not given any
descriptions of being angry or emotionally upset or of heavy physical
exertion. They were all self-defined triggers which appear to have the same effect across countries and
- Identify Triggers - Identify the circumstances that lead
to anger or other emotions. It could be a person or a situation.
Identifying the trigger helps to establish a pattern which can be avoided.
- Calming Techniques - Engaging in calming techniques like
relaxation by visual imaging from your memory or using imagination,
breathing exercise, meditation and yoga.
- Identify Solutions - Instead of focusing on the problems
that trigger emotions, it is better to accept the situation and look for
- Physical Activity- Engage in regular
physical activity. It helps to tone muscles and control blood
pressure. It also boosts mental health and eases depression and anxiety
- Eating Healthy - Healthy diet can help in weight management and
maintaining healthy levels of blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Cut Down on Alcohol Consumption and Smoking - Alcoholism
smoking are the leading causes of cardiovascular
diseases, coronary heart disease and stroke.
- Seek Professional Help - Seek medical help
if your emotions get out of control if you become overwhelmed. They can
help in developing personal strategies for setting and achieving
reasonable health improvement goals.
- Anger - (https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/a/anger)
- Controlling Anger - (http://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control.aspx)
- Anger Management - (http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/anger-management/art-20045434)
- Mental Health and Heart Health - (http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/StressManagement/HowDoesStressAffectYou/Mental-Health-and-Heart-
- Information on Heart and Mental Health - (https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/preventing-heart-disease/heart-and-mental-health)