Survey reveals what makes South Africans see red

Traffic jams, queue jumpers and people who think rules don’t apply to them have emerged among the list of 30 things that gets South Africans’ blood boiling and thereby increase blood pressure, according to a just-released health survey.

More than 1 300 South Africans were polled by the country’s leading heart and stroke treatment provider, Pharma Dynamics, to divulge the things that most get their goat, with taxi drivers topping the list.

People cutting in line, folk who ignore the rules, forgetting to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and load-shedding complete SA’s top five rage-inducing annoyances.

Commuting in SA evidently also shoots our blood pressure through the roof especially when motorists and/or cyclists jump red traffic lights, when busses or trains don’t stick to schedules and get cancelled at the last minute, drivers ignoring zebra crossings or when Cocky Joes rip through suburbia or housing estates at supersonic speeds.

Other temper-triggers highlighted in Pharma Dynamics’ poll include anti-social behaviour such as when someone pays more attention to their electronic device(s) than to you, along with having to go through endless automated phone options and then being kept on hold.

Money also leaves us fuming with high petrol prices, having to pay a fee for withdrawing money from an ATM, paying for parking when you only intend to pop in to the shops quickly and seeing salaries disappear in fees and taxes all on the list.

Mariska van Aswegen, spokesperson of Pharma Dynamic said they commissioned the poll as a way to get South Africans to take their heart-health more seriously.

“With 6.3 million South Africans living with high blood pressure, SA has one of the highest rates of hypertension in the world. Many however remain unaware of their condition because high blood pressure usually has no symptoms. Hypertension is also a precursor and leading cause behind other life-threatening conditions such as stroke and heart disease.

“Stressful situations can cause your blood pressure to spike temporarily, but too much stress could lead to high blood pressure in the long-run. Doing activities that can help you manage your stress and improve your health can make a long-term difference in lowering blood pressure,” she says.

SA’s top 30 annoyances according to the survey are:

  1. Taxi drivers
  2. Queue jumpers
  3. People who think rules don’t apply to them
  4. Bad manners
  5. Load-shedding
  6. Rudeness in general
  7. Having to go through lots of automated phone options and then being kept on hold
  8. Traffic jams
  9. Smoking around children
  10. Spitting in public
  11. Motorists and/or cyclists who jump red traffic lights
  12. Anti-social behaviour e.g. when someone pays more attention to their electronic device(s) than to you
  13. Backstabbers
  14. Using cellphones while driving
  15. People eating loudly and sloppily
  16. Petrol price increases
  17. Laziness
  18. People who swear all the time
  19. People who can’t spell or use correct grammar
  20. Paying a fee for withdrawing money from an ATM
  21. Pop-up adverts on the internet
  22. Paying tax
  23. Office suck ups
  24. Paying for parking when you only intend to pop in to the shops quick
  25. Drivers speeding through housing estates
  26. Your neighbour mowing the lawn or drilling at 7am on the weekend
  27. Drivers ignoring zebra crossings
  28. Tardiness
  29. Tissues in the washing machine
  30. Busses or trains being cancelled

Twenty percent of respondents experience daily stress and aggravation from everyday irritations and frustrations, and almost 40% admitted that these usually cause them stress long after the incident.According to Pharma Dynamics’ survey, almost a third of South Africans are easily provoked with partners, call centre agents and fellow motorists most likely to be on the receiving end of their anger.

Van Aswegen says if you’re tired, stressed or simply at the end of your tether, it doesn’t take much to make your blood boil.

“Try to take short breaks during times of the day that tend to be very stressful, identify what specifically makes you angry and think of possible solutions, humour can also help to diffuse tension, practice relaxation skills especially when your temper flares and exercise too is a great way to help reduce stress and feelings of frustration.

“Statistics show that about 130 heart attacks and 240 strokes occur daily in SA, which means that 10 people will suffer a stroke and five will have a heart attack every hour. We would like to call on all South Africans to have their blood pressure tested at least annually,” she says.

The findings of Pharma Dynamics’ survey were released in September to mark National Heart Awareness Month. Have your blood pressure tested for free by the Heart and Stroke Foundation this month to know your heart age. For scheduled screenings in your area, visit

For more information about how to prevent or manage hypertension, visit or


Receive monthly health tips, advice and news in your inbox