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Managing Stress and Anger

Can we have a heart-to-heart about stress and anger? It’s totally understandable to feel upset at times. In small doses, these feelings serve a useful purpose by alerting you to problems and challenges in your life. But if the feelings are too frequent or intense, they can swamp your body’s response system. Your health may suffer—and your heart could pay the price.

It’s especially important to manage stress and anger when you have coronary artery disease or congestive heart failure. Overwhelming stress or anger might make your heart problems worse by:

  • Raising your blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Making your arteries squeeze tight, increasing the risk for coronary microvascular disease (problems with tiny blood vessels in the heart).
  • Triggering angina (chest pain) in some people.

To keep stress and anger from spiraling out of control, try these tips:

  • Call a time-out in tense situations. Step away if you can. Take some deep, calming breaths and collect your thoughts before reacting.
  • Get physical activity every day. Exercise is a great stress reliever.
  • Find healthy ways to relax, such as meditating or calling a friend.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress or anger, you don’t have to deal with it alone. You might benefit from talking with a counselor or taking part in a stress management program. Ask your healthcare provider for recommendations.

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