Depression, Stress, Anger and Heart Disease
by Dr Jenny Tylee

Anger People who have a high level of anger, irritability, cynicism and aggression are
at a higher risk of developing heart disease. A heart attack is almost three times
more likely in people with high levels of anger than in those who don't experience
much anger. Feeling angry from time to time is normal. Some people express anger
readily while others fume about a situation. When anger is experienced in relation to
a specific event and the amount of anger felt is appropriate to the event then it is
usually not a health risk. However, if the anger surfaces too readily and lasts too long
and is suppressed and not expressed, then it may become a cardiovascular risk

The following test adapted from Pistcatella and Frankin (2003) will help you to assess
you level of anger.

Read each of the statements below and grade yourself on how you would respond
to each situation using the following scale.

1 = never, 2 = rarely, 3 = often, 4 = always

1. It doesn't take much to get me mad.

2. People tell me I should calm down.

3. I blow up at terrible drivers.

4. If I'm upset I'll hit the dog or cat or something else.

5. People call me hot headed.

6. I'm furious about the way that I get treated at a restaurants or stores.

7. When other people's mistakes slow me down I can get upset for the whole day.

8. If the situation is bad enough I throw things.

9. I swear loudly to blow off steam.

10. I feel like hitting someone who makes me very angry.

11. I've been told I have a bad temper.

12. If you embarrass me in front of someone, I'll be furious.

13. I'm a very ambitious person, so sometimes I get impatient and angry with other

14. I've been known to break things when I get frustrated.

If you scored below 18 you are able to stay calm in situations that would frustrate
others. This is a big help in managing your stress levels.

If you scored 19 to 27 you get angry about as often as most other people.

If you scored 28 to 35 there is a good possibility that you are under too much stress
or it may be that getting angry has become a habit. Take this score seriously and
start to make changes now before it adversely affects your health.

If you scored over 35 and you continue with the same behavior and approach to life
you risk serious stress related health problems.

Depression The association between depression and heart disease and heart
attacks has been established for some time. Depression is reported to precede a
heart attack in up to 50% of cases. Apart from the link between depression and
heart disease, depression also contributes to a poor lifestyle. Depressed people are
more likely to eat poorly, be sedentary, smoke and drink too much alcohol.

How do you know if depression is a problem for you? The following test adapted
from one developed by Harvard University is designed to help assess people who are
likely to be suffering from depression.

Read the following statements and answer yes or no to them.

1. I feel sad most of the time.

2. I don't enjoy the things that I used to.

3. I sleep too little or too much.

4. I don't feel like eating or I eat too much.

5. I can't make decisions.

6. I have difficulty concentrating.

7. I feel hopeless.

8. I feel worthless.

9. I get tired for no reason.

10. I think about killing myself.

If you answered yes to four or more of these questions and you have felt this way
every day for two weeks or more you may be suffering from depression and you
should consult a health professional for a more complete assessment.

If you answered yes to question 10 seek health professional assistance immediately,
regardless of your answer to any of the other questions.

Depression and anger are two of the factors that can lead to the development of
heart disease - with the associated heart attacks, angina, cardiac arrests and heart
rhythm disturbances. They also reduce the quality of your life. There are many things
that you can do about these problems. If you suffer from mild or moderate
depression then you will benefit by joining overcoming depression


Aesoph, L. 2001, 6 Steps for Handling Stress, Health World Online. June 2001.

Hippisley-Cox, J. et al.1998, Depression as a risk Factor For Ischemic Heart Disease
in Men. British Meical Journal. June 1998.

Pistcatella, J.C. and Frankin, B.A. 2003, Take a Load off Your Heart. Workman.

Oberman, A. 2000, Emerging Cardiovascular Risk Factors. Clinical Reviews. Spring

About The Author

Dr Jenny Tylee is an experienced health professional who is passionate about health
and wellbeing. She believes that health is not just absence of disease and seeks to
actively promote vitality and wellness through empowering others. She encourages
those who are feeling depressed to seek help and join the
program. Jenny also owns Health Product Site and
. The
. com has vitamin, minerals and herbs which can assist with
depression and provides information on detoxifying the body
which has been shown to be beneficial in depression.
It has been found that the traditional
indicators of heart disease such as
smoking, high cholesterol and high
blood pressure account for about
50% of heart attacks. In trying to
account for the rest the focus has
moved to psychosocial factors -
personality and behavior which give
rise to stress hormones. Chronic
stress, Type A personality, anger,
depression and social isolation not
only have a direct negative effect on
the cardiovascular system but they
also increase the effects of other
cardiac factors. This article looks at
two of these factors - depression and
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