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AMERICAN MORNING

Paging Dr. Gupta: Hostility & Hypertension

Aired October 22, 2003 - 08:43   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hypertension is a major contributing factor in heart disease, and 50 million Americans fit the profile. New research explores why certain personality traits could actually be hazardous to your health.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is at the CNN center with details for us.

Hey, Sanjay, good morning.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.

We're talking about type-a behavior here to some extent and the lore about this and its relationship to hypertension. That's been around the medical community for quite some time. What exactly about type-a behavior causes the problems with hypertension? Well, that was the focus of the study. Bottom line, it's OK to be competitive, even ambitious, but go easy on the hostility and impatience. And the worse your hostility and impatience is, the worse your hypertension might be. Most people know what hypertension is, that's also known as high blood pressure. It's a major risk factor for heart disease, kidney disease, congestive heart failure and the chief risk factor for stroke, as well.

3,300 men and women were studied in four metropolitan areas. They were followed over several years, and basically their blood pressures were monitored, and they were also given questionnaires assessing their hostility as well as their time, urgency and impatience.

Take a look at some of the results of the study. Those who ranked themselves in the highest in terms of being impatient had an 84 percent greater risk of developing hypertension long-term, specifically 15 years later. Those who were in the second quartile. This is a 47 percent greater risk. That's compared to people who did consider themselves to be impatient people. Also they measured hostility. People who actually consider themselves to be hostile. They develop hostile sort of behavior in relationship to being impatient. Those that are most hostile -- this was graded on a scale of 0 to 50 -- they also had an 84 percent greater risk of developing hypertension. That was 15 years later. Those in the second quartile, 38 percent greater risk. Again, a high number there as well. This is compared to people who did not consider themselves to develop hostile traits.

Now again, Soledad, people who were merely competitive, merely developed anxiety at times or another did not develop the significant problems with hypertension that those people in those two specific categories, and patients as well as hostility did -- Soledad.

So then give us a sense of what people who might classify themselves that way should do to mitigate their risks, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Well, it's interesting, if you look at type-A behavior, people sort of throw that term around. It's made up of a lot of different characteristics actually, some specific ones, including time urgency/impatience, achievement striving, competitiveness and hostility. Those are actually the components of someone who's actually truly a type-A sort of person.

Now there are behaviors -- the paper that just talked about several different interventions that could decrease your risk of developing hypertension if you tended to be more of an impatient person or more of a hostile person. First of all, they didn't suggest just throwing medications at the problem, anxiety medications, but rather behavioral interventions early on in life.

Again, these are people who are young, who developed hypertension later in life. So behavioral interventions and a recognition that, in fact, this could be a problem. Also, we all know the key elements of trying to decrease your risk of hypertension, those are well known, maintaining a healthy weight, exercise, sodium, a big one. People need to remember that. A lot of the foods that come out today, while they may be low fat, high sodium, limiting alcohol, stop smoking and reducing stress. We could all do that a little more, Soledad.

But this is sort of an interesting study, because it really gives some key components of type-a behavior for people to sort of focus in on.

O'BRIEN: Some good information, I think. All right, Sanjay, thanks very much.

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