In this week's Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers say they found people who are often impatient or hostile have a much higher risk of developing high blood pressure — one of the leading risk factors for heart disease.
The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay explains that the study looked at five traits in people and followed these people for about 15 years to see which of these traits was really most predictive of health problems.
The five traits it looked at were: hostility, impatience, competitiveness, depression and anxiety. Researchers found that, after about 5 years, people who were hostile and impatient were much more likely to have high blood pressure, which is not good for long-term health.
Those who fall in the impatient category are people who are always ready for a fight, Senay explains.
She notes when the study was started in the mid '80s, the men and women were a between the ages of 18 and 30 years old. The question? What is it about hostility that leads to high blood pressure over time?
There's two potential ways that hostile behavior can have this result, Senay explains.
One is that there can be an actual physiological response in the body. If you're always on that fight-or-flight mode, it's going to affect your heart rate. And two, hostile people may be more likely to smoke and drink, and less likely to eat healthy and exercise. There also may be things researchers don't know about how hostility affects the body, Senay says. But increasingly, this is becoming a very important marker for disease.
The study also discovered that competitiveness, depression and anxiety have ill effect on health but not in the same way as hostility did. The study really focused on which personality traits are going to be the most maladaptive over time and hostility stands out.
The good news is people with hostility traits can do something about it. There are methods that help one to stop, question oneself, and retrain oneself.
Such behavior modifications, Senay says, works in the short-term to reduce blood pressure and heart rate. Long-term, there's no study that shows for sure that if you stop being hostile, you will improve your health. So if you see that hostility trait in yourself, Senay advises you to try to modify your behaviors.