Wrangling a rage-a-holic Mad Max

Published: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 31, 2014 at 3:08 p.m.

Q: Lately, my husband is angry about everything. I tell him it's not good for him, but he won't, or can't, dial it down. Any suggestions?

— Susan D., Charlotte, N.C.

A: “People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing,” cautioned Will Rogers. And was he right! Repeated, quick-to-anger outbursts trigger the release of stress hormones epinephrine and cortisol, which make your heart beat faster, raise blood pressure, pump up your blood sugar level and tamp down your immune, digestive and reproductive systems. And a new study shows that for two hours after an angry outburst, you're almost five times more likely to have chest pains, shortness of breath and, yup, a heart attack. You're also around four times more likely to have a stroke. The chances of an irregular heartbeat or brain aneurysm also shoot up.

So when your husband repeatedly blows his stack, say, as he's driving to work (Learn to drive, you moron!), he's risking serious health problems, especially if he has high LDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, smokes, eats red meat more than once a week or has other risk factors for heart disease.

Pass along these tips to help him cool down and dial back his anger:

Ask him to acknowledge that he gets enraged a lot, and admit that it's not pleasant for him either.

Suggest he count to 10 before he says anything angry. For example, the car in front of him stops short and he has to slam on the brakes ... seven, eight, nine ... he'll be surprised how that first flash of rage dissipates and he feels calmer and more in control.

Ask him to outlaw overblown words, and no cursing. Words like “never” and “always” fuel extreme feelings. In place of swearing, make up humorous substitutes. Have him try saying, “I'll be a ton of a birch tree,” and “I can't believe that fracking gas well cut me off!”

Share 10 minutes of mindful meditation every morning and evening. It's proven to reduce overall stress (you're feeling some, too), and it will help protect both of your hearts.

Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at youdocsdaily@sharecare.com.

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