Over many years, scientific research has learned that personality can affect the risk for a variety of health conditions. Type A personalities are hard-driving, impatient and are easily frustrated. Type B personalities are laid-back, deal with frustration more easily and tend to roll with life’s punches. Research suggests that Type A personalities appear to have higher rates of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
Certain features characterize the Type A personality. To determine whether you might be such a person, you should ask yourself:
- Are you frequently in a hurry?
- Are you highly competitive?
- Do you talk faster than most people?
- Do you often miss what people are saying to you?
- Do you often multitask, such as reading the mail while talking on the phone?
- Do you have a strong need for recognition from peers?
- Are you often annoyed by delays in traffic, while waiting in line or while waiting for service in restaurants?
- Do you take risks to get the bigger reward?
- Do you worry about things that may happen in the future?
- Do you stew over things others have done to frustrate you?
Although Type A personalities can be highly organized and high achievers, researchers find that these people also have higher levels of stress hormones that can affect their overall health and well-being. Living in overdrive can take its toll on a number of physical systems and lead to adverse health conditions and even early death.
High Blood Pressure
Type A personalities have been found to have higher levels or norepinephrine, a brain chemical associated with the “fight or flight” reaction. These individuals are always in high gear and ready to take on the competition, a condition that causes increased activity of the sympathetic nervous system. This chronic state of chemical readiness leads to high blood pressure and related diseases. Anger management or mindfulness training can help these individuals to reduce their heightened emotional states.
The high levels of stress and high blood pressure often experienced by Type A personalities can become severe enough to lead to a stroke. Taking medication to lower blood pressure and managing emotions with a variety of techniques can help these individuals to avoid serious blood pressure episodes.
The combination of high stress, poor eating habits, obesity, lack of exercise and high blood pressure can put Type A personalities at higher risk for heart disease. Types A’s may also be prone to higher cholesterol, another factor in heart disease. Hormones associated with stress can cause inflammation in blood vessels that can lead to blockages and poor circulation. When these conditions reach a critical level, heart arrhythmias or a heart attack can result. Taking an active part in maintaining health can help to prevent these medical problems.
If you’re a Type A personality, you might want to reduce your risk for these health conditions. Talk to your doctor about ways to maintain healthy blood pressure, manage your weight and follow a heart-healthy diet.