Forgive and forget, for your hearts sake
1st August 2012
We’ve all been offended by someone at one time or another and whether we choose to forgive someone or not can have a big effect on our relationship with that person however new research led by Dr Britta Larsen at the University of California, San Diego has found that whether we choose to forgive or not can have a big impact on our health especially in relation to our heart. The research found that those who let go of their anger were less likely to suffer dangerous spikes in blood pressure. Short term rises in blood pressure are not known to be harmful however over a longer period high blood pressure can increase the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke. The researchers at the University of California asked just over 200 people who were wired up to monitors which took their blood pressure to focus on a time a friend or loved one had upset or offended them. Half of the group were told to concentrate on how much the incident had upset or angered them whilst the other half were told to think about the incident in a more forgiving way. It was found that the angry group saw the greatest increase in blood pressure compared to the group who were trying to see it in a more forgiving way. Interestingly after a five minute timeout period the differing effects could still be seen between the two groups. The research published in the Journal of Biobehavioural Medicines suggested that forgiveness could lower our reactivity to stressful events and thus prevent dangerous spikes in blood pressure. It also went on to suggest that doing so could offer longer term protection in relation to heart attacks and strokes. This could prove very helpful as around 30% of adults in the UK have hypertension (high blood pressure) and are unaware of it due to lack of obvious symptoms.