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Under pressure

Angry, impatient young adults may face a higher risk of hypertension.

October 27, 2003|Roni Rabin | Newsday

Do you honk your horn the minute the light turns green? Fume when someone's late or a meeting runs over? Stress out when caught in a checkout line? You may want to have your blood pressure checked.

A large study that followed more than 3,300 young adults for 15 years found that those who were impatient or hostile faced a higher long-term risk of developing high blood pressure, independent of other risk factors. And the more impatient and hostile they were, the study found, the greater the risk.

The study by Lijing L. Yan at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, with colleagues from the universities of Pittsburgh and Alabama, was published in last week's Journal of the American Medical Assn.

"Our study is new and needs to be confirmed, but if time urgency/impatience is confirmed as a risk factor for hypertension, patients should be screened for it by their primary-care physicians," said Yan, research assistant professor in preventive medicine at the Feinberg School in Evanston, Ill. "Individuals themselves should also try to be aware of the tendency or behavior patterns they have."

The study used participant data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study. It looked at 3,308 black and white men and women from four cities, who were 18 to 30 years old when they were recruited in 1985-1986 and who were followed through 2000-2001. During the 15-year period, 15% of the total sample developed high blood pressure.

But those who scored highest on the impatience scale had 1.8 times the chance of developing high blood pressure as those who scored zero on the scale. The observation held for both races and sexes, Yan said.

And individuals with high levels of hostility were 1.8 times more likely to develop hypertension than those who scored lowest on the hostility scale, the study found.

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