Bad Attitude Raises Blood Pressure Risk
Impatient, Hostile Attitudes Increase Future Risk of High Blood Pressure
Oct. 21, 2003 -- Not only is patience a virtue, it's also good
for your heart. A new study shows that young adults with impatient or hostile
attitudes have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure when they get
Researchers say the findings show that individual aspects of
the infamous "type A personality" attitude may be responsible for
raising the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease among young and
Previous studies on the link between the type A personality and
heart disease have produced conflicting results. But researchers say that might
be because of the fact that the type A personality has many dimensions.
Researchers say this is the first study to examine the role of
the following three main components of the type A personality type in
influencing the long-term risk of high blood pressure:
- Time urgency/impatience
- Achievement striving/competitiveness
More than 43 million American adults suffer from high blood
pressure, defined as having a systolic (the top number) equal or greater than
140 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) equal or greater than
90 mm Hg. High blood pressure is a well-known risk factor for heart
Hostility, Impatience Raise Blood Pressure Risk
The study, published in the Oct. 22-29 issue of The Journal
of the American Medical Association, looked at how each of these type A
personality factors as well as depression and anxiety were linked to the
long-term risk of high blood pressure in a group of more than 3,000 adults aged
18 to 30 years. Researchers followed the participants for 15 years.
They found that the higher the person scored on tests of
impatience and hostility during young adulthood, the more likely they were to
develop high blood pressure later in life -- regardless of their other risk
factors for high blood pressure, such as age, sex, race, education, body mass
index (BMI, a measure of weight in relation to height), physical activity
level, or blood pressure at the start of the study.
The study also showed a consistent link between achievement
striving and competitiveness and high blood pressure risk among white men
No consistent patterns of risk were found for depression or
anxiety and high blood pressure risk.
Researcher Lijing L. Yan, PhD, MPH, and colleagues of
Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., say the results are consistent with
the most recent studies that have shown hostility increases high blood pressure
In an editorial that accompanies the study, Redford B.
Williams, MD, of Duke University Medical Center, and colleagues say that solid
scientific evidence on the effects of stress and other psychosocial factors on
health have been emerging for the last 30 years.
Even though much more research is needed to understand how
factors like attitude affect heart risks, they say behavioral and drug
treatment approaches that target these psychosocial risk factors "already
have shown considerable promise for reducing disease and improving health and