Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Heart, Anger & Irregular Heartbeats

Today it was reported in the health section of the Wall Street Journal that how the heart handles anger predicts who is at risk for a life threatening irregular heartbeat. It has often been thought that negative emotions put people at risk for developing heart disease and usually after natural disasters, heart attacks increase.

According to Rachel Lampert, a Yale University researcher working on emotions and heart disease, "anger causes electrical changes in the heart". In this particular study, 62 patients were fitted with defibrillators in their chests because of preexisting heart disease. When the patients remembered something that made them angry, EKG beat-to-beat patterns were irregular. The emotional stress was producing causing physical stress to the body. The important point to note is that it did this without causing a jump in heart rate suggesting that anger's Adrenalin rush may act directly on heart cells.

The result is that the people whose EKG showed a big anger surge were much more likely to have their defibrillators fire a lifesaving shock in the next three years than people whose hearts didn't react to anger according to Dr. Lampert.

The source of this article can be found online at the Wall Street Journal
"How Heart Handles Anger Predicts Irregular Heartbeat"

As I have learned through the work I do and in my own life, our emotions do have a direct effect on our physical bodies. However, if we try to mask those emotions and just make ourselves appear happy, we have not taken care of the negative emotions. In order for the negative emotions to no longer have power over us, we must go into them and make peace with them. Only by knowing ourselves fully and being at home within our bodies, we will then give ourselves one of the greatest gifts we can, a healthy body.

There are many ways that the emotions come through our body and if you pay close attention to yourself and others around you, this will become evident. Here's some of the more common ones that you may use or hear others use:
  • I've got butterflies in my stomach
  • I'm so angry I can't see straight
  • This problem is giving me a headache
  • I feel like I'm carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders
  • I feel like I've got a monkey on my back
  • This situation just takes my breath away
  • It gives me a lump in my throat
  • Life is giving me a pain in the neck
  • I feel like my feet are made of lead
  • It hurts so bad I could just cry

The other thing to note in this research and I would agree with the statement is that up to three years later, the effects of anger may have caused a life saving shock of the defibrillator to be administered. That in effect is saying that even after the emotion passes, it is still resident within our bodies unless we find the proper way to discharge its affects on us.

I'm not suggesting that we try to go about our day being happy go lucky people and avoiding anger because as I alluded to earlier, if we bottle this up within us, at some point the effects will be felt. Just as a pressure cooker works, so does the body. If you continue to apply heat under pressure, something has to give. The pressure cooker can not continue to stay this way forever and neither can the body. Learning to let the pressure out in a safe way and in doses that we are comfortable with will give us optimal emotional and physical health.

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