Dealing with AFib and Anger

The Link Between AFib and Anger

Dealing with AFib and AngerAtrial fibrillation (AFib) is a big problem. The condition that shifts your heart from steady, regular rhythms to rapid, uncoordinated spasms is becoming more well-known and more prevalent. Reports estimate that there are 150,000 new cases of (AFib) diagnosed each year.

This number results in almost 500,000 hospital admissions and ten times more doctors office visits. In addition, $6.5 billion in hospital costs are associated with the disease per year.

AFib is a big problem, but you are not ready for it to be your problem. You talk to your doctor, who tells you about risk factors associated with AFib including high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes and obesity. He tells you the standard information about quitting smoking, watching what you eat and increasing your exercise as he hands you a lab slip to check your thyroid and blood sugar.

Before you leave, though, he tells you one more thing: reduce your anger. Anger? What could getting angry possibly have to do with AFib? As it turns out, feelings of anger and hostility are behavioral factors related to AFib. This means the more anger you have in your life, the higher your risk is for AFib.

The theory is that anger, especially in high levels, releases stress hormones. These hormones can do damage like adding fatty substances to your heart. If you are a woman, congratulations. The link between anger and AFib only applies to men – but reducing your anger is always a worthwhile goal.

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Know Your Anger

Anger is a reaction to an unwanted/undesirable event that creates changes in your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. It is often immediate and ranges from mild annoyance to fury and rage. Rage is the most extreme form of anger and is difficult to manage because it often takes over your body as well as your mind. Hostility is another aspect of anger. Someone who is hostile has an attitude towards others or the world that breeds anger; it’s essentially an angry version of pessimism.

In some people, especially men, anger is often a byproduct of depression. Despite progress towards widespread acceptance of mental health issues, it is still considered feminine by some to express thoughts and feelings of depression. Because of this, men will often channel feelings of sadness, low self-esteem, hopelessness and guilt into anger. Anger is much more socially accepted and expected in men, so they feel freer to express this feeling.

Positives and Negatives of Anger

When people think about anger, they think of violence and aggression. They think that anger is the problem. Actually, the problems anger creates are usually a result of poor coping skills. Problems of anger include limiting your ability to thinking clearly and use good judgment, increasing your physical tension, hurting yourself or others physically or psychologically and a lack of social awareness, making you more self-centered.

To limit your risk of AFib, you must begin to rethink the way your view anger. Anger is considered by many to be a negative emotion, but like any other feeling anger is neither good nor bad. What is important is what you choose to do with it. At times, it is very appropriate to become angry, and there are actually several positive aspects of anger, including:

  • Anger alerts you to a problem that needs addressed.
  • Anger tells other people that you are feeling upset.
  • Anger gives you increased energy to act.
  • Anger lets you know a conflict needs to be addressed.

Next page: feeling your anger and letting it out.

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