Are you a type A personality? You are if you’re often impatient, extremely competitive, and consistently aggressive in most everything you do. Research shows that type A individuals with high hostility have twice the risk of heart disease than non-type A folds. We know that constant excessive anger, worry, stress, and anxiety raise adrenaline levels, raise blood pressure, and thereby stress the heart and circulatory system. The risk of heart disease – especially heart attack – increases for the type A types. Isn’t it interesting that the majority of heart attacks occur on Monday morning, when many are dreading work?
Comedian Lily Tomlin put it nicely: “The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat”. Many of us are so caught up in the race to get ahead that we leave our health behind. Our hearts suffer under the stress and tension of trying to be on top and at the head of every line.
Type A personalities are always in a hurry, trying to accomplish too many activities or check off too many tasks in too little an amount of time. They tend to accelerate daily activities (speeding up speech and finishing the sentences of others in a conversation, walking and eating quickly, doing two or three tasks at the same time) and often engage in two or more conversations all at once. Unfortunately, they also develop a drive that is self-destructive (usually unconsciously). They look forward to someday escaping life’s treadmill and retiring early, but too many of them never make it as they tend to spend their health to make money, and then spend their retirement using their money to try to get back their health. The most destructive characteristic of type A behavior is hostility. Hostility includes anger and bitterness, which are very damaging to one’s blood vessels.
The best ways to cope with stress are practicing gratitude, getting then belly laughs a day, incorporating margin in your life, practicing forgiveness every day, and walking in love toward everyone, no matter how they treat you.
Studies have supported what has long been known from Proverbs 17:22: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength”. Laughter has amazing healing qualities, as does caring for others. Even owning a pet has been shown to have positive health benefits. Don’t’ rush through life trying to get to the end only to find you didn’t really live along the way. Jesus promised us a full, abundant life, and He never intended that it would only be after you retired!
Deadly emotions, including depression
It should not be surprising to you that the “heartsickness” of clinical depression – and chronically experiencing negative emotions such as anger, resentment, unforgiveness, and hostility – will actually have repercussions for your physical heart. Depressed people suffer four times the risk of heat disease that non-depressed people do. Cardiovascular disease and depression actually share biochemical similarities. The flip side of this is that sometimes the two can be addressed together through what we eat and the supplements we take.
Those who experience chronic hopelessness and sadness tend to have more inflammatory proteins in their systems such as C-reactive protein and interleukin-1 beta. Depression also increases the release of stress hormones that over time will contribute to hypertension, insulin resistance, and diabetes. They also tend to have higher levels of homocysteine, increased oxidative stress, and lower level of omega-3 fatty acids and folic acid (so look to add these to your supplements).
Anxiety is also associated with cardiovascular disease. Research shows that men with high anxiety levels are up to six times more likely to experience sudden cardiac death than non-anxious men.
Though it is not known exactly why, depressed people tend to exercise less, smoke more, eat less nutritiously, and not follow their prescriptions as well. Thus they also seem to have more problems with weight control.