Type A health risks

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Anonymous's picture

"Study linking anger, impatience, and competitiveness with high blood pressure and heart disease is worth, well, medititating about.

(No, the headline does not refer specifically to A riders, though surely some qualify, along with other members of the alphabet.)

Available for only a day or two without a subscription at: http://wsj.com


Choose Your Neurosis: Some Type-A TraitsAre Riskier Than Others

When business associates fail to follow straightforward directions or miss deadlines on projects, Matt Sicinski gets angry. Really angry.

""My feet get cold, and I get a throbbing in my head,"" says Mr. Sicinski, who works for a company that runs drug studies for the pharmaceutical industry. ""I can feel every muscle in my body tense up."" Sometimes, in the middle of a conversation, he puts the phone on mute, he says, and starts ""cursing somebody up one side and down the other.""

Mr. Sicinski's behavior reflects a classic Type A personality and one that medical research increasingly suggests puts him on a trajectory for heart disease later in life. Indeed, just 30 years old, he's already on a combination of drugs to control his blood pressure, with limited success, he says.

Now a large, long-term study offers a fresh warning for younger adults like Mr. Sicinski for whom anger and hostility simmer continuously below the surface, poised to boil over. Unless they can find ways to control their outbursts, they may be at increased risk of developing high blood pressure -- a major precursor to heart attacks, strokes and other symptoms of cardiovascular disease.

The report, based on more than 3,300 people between 18 and 30 years old who were then tracked for 15 years, provides more evidence that ""these mind-body effects are real and actually do increase the risk of major illnesses,"" says Redford B. Williams, director of the behavioral medicine research center at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.


To distinguish the effects of each trait, researchers led by Lijing L. Yan, of the department of preventive medicine at Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, evaluated responses to four different questionnaires that study participants filled out. For instance, the participants answered four questions to measure their levels of impatience: whether they generally felt pressured for time; whether they felt pressured at the end of a work or housework day; whether they ate too quickly; and whether they got upset when they had to wait for something. The questions measuring competitiveness asked whether the participants had a strong need to excel in most things; were bossy or dominating; were hard-driving and competitive; and thought about work after working hours. Participants scored themselves on a rating scale of one to four, with four being the highest intensity.


There are few studies showing that taming Type A behavior leads to lower blood pressure, but researchers think meditation, yoga and other exercise might help curb hostility and impatience.

An important initial strategy, suggests Dr. Yan, is simply to be aware of tendencies toward impatience and hostility and to try to relax or get exercise when the feelings begin to emerge. Duke's Dr. Williams, a founder and stockholder in a company that markets stress management programs, suggests the first step is to ask yourself just how important the situation is. If it's insignificant, such as being stuck in a traffic jam, he advises, ""Let it go.""

Many people who get into the habit of such an approach, he says, find most of what makes them hostile is trivial and become better at controlling their response.


Anonymous's picture
Chris T (not verified)
Gotta Be a subscriber

Sorry Carol, but WSJ.com expects you to be a subscriber to access the article in question.

Now if I were a type A person, what kind of angry wrath would I get into, and then direct at you for misinforming me about WSJ.com?

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
So I sent you the article

I thought the Journal online was free for at least a couple of days--guess not.

Anyone else who wants to see it, email me by 10/29. Limited time offer.

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