It is no health secret that stress on the body is a bad thing. It affects a wide variety of systems and functions deep inside us, and prolonged exposure to stress can have life-altering consequences. A new study sought to see if chronic stress was linked to a greater risk of stroke.
In a nutshell, it did. Published in the “Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry,” a study found that chronic stress — created by major life issues and type A personalities — is linked directly to a higher stroke risk.
This kind of stress, which lasts at least half a year, has previously been linked to risk of heart disease. But, as for stroke, that has been less clear…but no longer. To find out the answers, researchers studied 150 adults (average age: 54) who had a stroke, and 300 other healthy people of similar age.
Stress was assessed by major life events that would cause it, symptoms like anxiety and depression; their overall well-being and quality of life; and certain behaviors like being a type A personality. The latter tend not only to be leaders and go-getters, but also prone to aggression, impatience, and a quick temper.
Also, the individuals were assessed for stroke risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, daytime fatigue and history of heart issues. Researchers also addressed lifestyle issues that could be impacting stroke risk, such as caffeine intake, alcohol intake, smoking, relationship status, and job.
Here are some key results from the study:
— Several factors were on their own linked to stroke risk
— Risk of stroke was nearly four times greater among people who had gone through a major stressful life event in the past year
— The further into type A personality levels one was, stroke risk more than doubled
— Also doubling stroke risk was a history of smoking, and drinking more than two energy drinks per day
— Study subjects who had a disturbed heart rhythm were over three times more likely to suffer a stroke
— Those who had a high level of daytime sleepiness nearly tripled their risk
— Men had a nine times greater risk for stroke than women
All of these are important takeaway messages. But when the full picture comes together, we see that stress in general and all the things that cause it are certifiably linked to a greater risk of stroke.