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Anger and Your Heart: More Reasons to Learn Some Ways to Chill Out

anger and the heart

Everyone has heard of someone angry, yelling and then drops over dead. Why? Provoked anger is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease events. The underlying mechanism linking provoked anger as well as other core negative emotions including anxiety and sadness to cardiovascular disease remain unknown.

The study objective was to examine the acute effects of provoked anger, and secondarily, anxiety and sadness on endothelial cell health.


Apparently healthy adult participants (n=280) were randomized to an 8‐minute anger recall task, a depressed mood recall task, an anxiety recall task, or an emotionally neutral condition.

Pre−/post‐assessments of endothelial health including endothelium‐dependent vasodilation, circulating endothelial cell‐derived microparticles, and circulating bone marrow‐derived endothelial progenitor cells were measured.

There was a group×time interaction for the anger versus neutral condition on the change in reactive hyperemia index score from baseline to 40 minutes. For the change in reactive hyperemia index score, the anxiety versus neutral condition group by time interaction approached but did not reach statistical significance.

There were no consistent statistically significant group×time interactions for the anger, anxiety, and sadness versus neutral condition on endothelial cell‐derived microparticles and endothelial progenitor cells from baseline to 40 minutes.

The researchers found blood vessels’ ability to dilate was significantly reduced among people in the angry group compared with those in the control group. Blood vessel dilation wasn’t affected in the sadness and anxiety groups.

Dilation can be regulated by endothelial cells, which line the insides of blood vessels. By dilating and contracting, blood vessels slow down or increase the blood flow to the parts of the body that need it.

Further tests revealed that there was no damage to the endothelial cells or to the body’s ability to repair any endothelial cell damage. 


In this randomized controlled experimental study, a brief provocation of anger adversely affected endothelial cell health by impairing endothelium‐dependent vasodilation.

The results of the study could help physicians persuade their patients to manage their anger, through yoga, exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy or other established techniques.