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ANGER KILLS THE HEART: Doctors Justify Religious Prohibition on «Strong Emotions»

ANGER KILLS THE HEART: Doctors Justify Religious Prohibition on «Strong Emotions»
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Vasyl Kovach. SHN 28, 2024 / Facebook, «Sil-Sol»


A team of American doctors from Columbia University (New York) has concluded that the feeling of anger can indeed pose a deadly threat to a person, as it radically disrupts the functioning of blood vessels and increases the risk of heart diseases. Specifically, outbursts of anger raise the likelihood of heart attacks and strokes, even in individuals who are not typically prone to them. Thus, science has found a rational justification for the «prohibition of anger» in world religions.




In the course of the study, scientists conducted a series of experiments involving 280 volunteers-residents of New York (the oldest participant was 74 years old, and the average age of the participants was 26 years). All of them underwent preliminary screening, which did not reveal any heart diseases or significant risk factors for their development.

The specialists then decided to determine how anger affects people who lead a healthy lifestyle. According to their data, even brief outbursts of rage are far from harmless. You are irritated because you got up on the wrong side of the bed, got stuck in traffic, were rudely treated on the street, or your boss is nitpicking at work… In all these cases, experiencing even short-term anger harms your health.

According to one of the authors of the study, Dr. Daichi Shimbo, a professor of medicine at Columbia University, the state of anger definitely causes dysfunction of the blood vessels. The mechanism of this phenomenon is not fully understood by scientists.

So, in order to observe how exactly anger affects the subjects’ bodies, they were asked to «relax» for half an hour-no talking to anyone, no using smartphones, essentially refraining from any cognitive or physical activity.

Initially, everyone’s blood pressure was measured randomly, and then they were given a series of 8-minute tasks. For example, they were asked to recall a situation from the past that caused anxiety or anger. Some were given depressive texts to read, which induced sadness. One of the tasks was emotionally neutral, involving a simple count up to 100.




At specific time intervals during these tasks, blood samples were taken from the subjects, and their blood pressure and vascular reactions were measured. The scientists found that during the first 40 minutes, the anger experienced through recollections negatively impacted the elasticity of the blood vessels, causing them to fail in their ability to dilate properly. It was during these 40 minutes that an angry person was at the highest risk of a heart attack or stroke. After this period, the danger gradually diminished.

Notably, other emotions did not have such a destructive effect on the cardiovascular system. Neither anxiety, nor sadness, nor emotionally neutral states caused similar disruptions in the body. Dr. Shimbo points out that the negative impact of anger on vascular health is not limited to problems with dilation or constriction.

The study revealed cellular-level damage in people experiencing anger, as well as a decreased ability of the body to recover. Additionally, Dr. Shimbo emphasizes that there is a cumulative effect from each new outburst of rage, which amplifies the consequences of the previous one. The more frequently you become angry, the more you should be concerned about serious harm — the adverse effects on blood vessels can become chronic.




Commenting on his colleagues’ experimental results, Dr. Glenn Levine, a professor from Baylor College of Medicine (Houston), noted that this study perfectly complements existing data on how mental well-being can affect the cardiovascular system.

Recently, there has been an increasing amount of such data. They indicate that it is precisely strong, excessive emotions that have an extremely negative impact on the body. For instance, intense sadness can trigger the mechanism of Takotsubo cardiomyopathy.

Takotsubo syndrome, or «broken heart syndrome», was first described by Japanese doctors back in 1990. The word «takotsubo» translates from Japanese to «octopus pot», which is what the heart’s shape reminded Japanese doctors of due to its expansion and weak contractility during this condition.

The symptoms of Takotsubo, triggered by emotional stress, resemble those of an acute myocardial infarction and can be fatal. However, not only strong negative emotions but also positive ones-such as excessive joy-can be deadly. This conclusion was reached by the European Society of Cardiology after conducting a comprehensive systematic review of cases of «broken heart syndrome».


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Analyzing these cases, researchers came to an unexpected conclusion: happiness, like sadness, can also break hearts. Thus, another syndrome was discovered and described — «happy heart syndrome». Scientists caution us against any excessive display of emotions.

Because stress-inducing activities, such as watching a football match, are far from harmless. For an overly emotional fan, they can easily result in arrhythmia or a heart attack.

How can one eliminate the negative impact of anger? First, you need to acknowledge the problem instead of denying it. This is the first step towards controlling anger rather than letting anger control you. Learning to manage anger means minimizing its harm by not allowing it to accumulate and «stagnate» within you.

Dr. Shimbo is confident that the research on the impact of anger on the body conducted by his team will serve as an additional incentive for people who are constantly angry to seek behavioral therapy. The adverse effects of rage on blood vessels can be effectively countered with physical exercise or medication.

But let us not forget that Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam have accumulated millennia of experience in combating anger. This experience shows that by caring for the well-being of your emotional and moral life, you also protect your physical health and extend your life.




There are popular psychological concepts suggesting that it is better to release negative emotions rather than hold them inside. For example, if you feel anger, it’s better to express it than let it destroy you from within. However, both science and religion indicate otherwise: whether you express your anger or not, it harms you either way.

The only solution is to learn not to get angry at all. This is precisely why various spiritual and religious practices have been developed.The Shia encyclopedia of hadiths «Bihar al-Anwar» quotes the Prophet Muhammad: «Anger is a burning ember thrown by Satan».

In fact, even in world religions, the prohibition against anger has a physiological basis. For instance, Saint Ephraim the Syrian points out that «the angry person loses peace and health because his body is constantly wasting away, his soul is in sorrow, and his flesh weakens».

This view is echoed by the words of Gautama Buddha: «You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger». Thus, it is not only about the soul and the afterlife. An angry person harms their body here and now, directly at the moment of expressing anger.

The prohibition against anger in all world religions is closely linked to the concern for health and longevity. In this regard, modern science aligns with them.


Original Research: Translational Research of the Acute Effects of Negative Emotions on Vascular Endothelial Health: Findings From a Randomized Controlled Study


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