WHEN you get angry, your heart suffers. A recent study conducted at Stanford University in the United States found that when heart patients were asked to recall incidents that still made them angry, the efficiency of their hearts in pumping blood dropped by 5 percent. While the drop in efficiency was not permanent, doctors consider it meaningful in view of growing evidence that hostile people are much more likely to develop heart disease than are people who are peaceable.
“The five-percentage-point reduction we found in the patients’ cardiac efficiency during anger is a significant, though mild drop,” said Dr. Gail Ironson, who led the research. “The patients said they were only about half as mad when recounting the episode as they were while it happened. Presumably the pumping efficiency would be even more greatly reduced during an actual angry encounter.”
The study is the first one to show that anger can cause a direct change in the heart’s ability to function. And while anger is not solely responsible for heart disease—diet, exercise, and genetics also play a role—researchers believe that anger may be a major contributor.
Doctors have long known that anger works havoc on the human body. It can cause a rise in blood pressure, arterial changes, respiratory trouble, liver upsets, changes in the secretion of gall, and damage to the pancreas. Anger is also thought to aggravate such disorders as asthma, eye afflictions, skin diseases, hives, and ulcers, as well as dental and digestive troubles.
Thus, apart from the spiritual and social benefits, there are physical benefits from heeding the Bible’s counsel to “let anger alone and leave rage” and not to “hurry yourself in your spirit to become offended [or, “angry,” King James Version].” How sensible it is to cultivate the “discernment” that makes one “slow to anger.” Indeed, “a calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism.”—Psalm 37:8; Ecclesiastes 7:9; Proverbs 14:29, 30.
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