Are you a person that is quick to anger? Are you yelling at other drivers on the road or at the TV? Many scientists now believe that anger, depression, and other forms of mental distress can help ignite heart disease. If you want to avoid heart trouble, exercising and watching your diet are a good start. But for ultimate protection, you may also need to ease your mind.
How can emotions affect the heart?
Negative feelings start in the brain, but they quickly engulf the entire body. When you’re angry, blue, or stressed out, your body floods with adrenaline and other stress hormones. These hormones — and other substances released by a body under stress — affect the supply of blood to the heart muscle, increase the clotting of blood particles, and limit the blood flow in the coronary vessels, which may result in the build-up of a blood clot.
Emotional stress can also cause a temporary rise in blood pressure or lead to a coronary spasm. All of these conditions can harm the walls of the blood vessels by making any pre-existing lesions — abnormal changes in the structure of the vessel walls due to injury or disease — more unstable. Chronic stress is also associated with increased inflammation in the body, which is implicated in several chronic conditions, including heart disease.
Some experts have also theorized that too much stress can speed the buildup of fatty plaque in your large and medium-sized arteries, a condition called atherosclerosis. Though this is still under debate, what’s clear is that once your arteries become clogged, a furious response to a single missed plane flight or traffic pileup can spell disaster. If you get angry enough, your arteries can squeeze together tightly; blood pushing through an area filled with soft plaque may then “erode” the fatty substance so that it ruptures, leading to the formation of a blood clot. If one of these clots gets lodged in an artery feeding your heart, you will have a heart attack.