We’ve Heard It A Million Times: Stress Will Kill You

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

In case you needed any more proof, yet another study has been released today which suggests stress, specifically the stress which accompanies a strong, Type A personality, leads to a high risk of stroke.

This study is far from the only one of its kind and shows similar results to its predecessors. Published online in the Journal of Neurology and Psychiatry, this study has found that chronic stress as a result of a high strung or Type A personality has been linked to an increased risk of stroke. Likewise, chronic stress which manifests itself as mental or physical symptoms, such as back pain or headaches, can lead to an increased risk of heart disease if the symptoms persist for more than six months. The risk of stroke associated with these symptoms, however, is not yet clear.

Co-author of this study, Dr. Ana Maria Garcia of the Hospital Clinico Universitario San Carlos, based these results on the study of 150 adults, aged 54 on average, who had been admitted to a stroke unit at least once. Dr. Garcia also studied 300 healthy, randomly selected individuals of the same age who lived in the same neighborhood. To measure the level of chronic stress, Dr. Garcia combined the quantitative scores of four validated scales. For instance, Dr. Garcia looked at the major events which occurred in the participants life, symptoms such as anxiety or depression, general well-being and behavior patterns which suggest a Type A personality.

Those with a Type A personality are thought to be more prone to stress, as their characteristic traits include aggression, hostility, impatience, and a quick temper.

The participants in this study were also assessed for biological factors and lifestyle factors associated with an increased risk of stroke. For example, these participants were asked if they had diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or any history of heart disease or daytime sleepiness.

Dr. Garcia and team then asked the participants about their lifestyle, such as their coffee and energy drink intake, whether they smoked, if they lived with a partner, or if they had a job.

In the end, the results showed that there were several factors which were independently associated with the heightened risk of stroke. Those participants who had recently encountered a major life event in the previous year, such as a death in the family or sudden unemployment, were more likely to have a stroke. In fact, the risk of stroke for these participants was 4 times higher than those in the “healthy” comparison group.

Speaking to ABC News, Dr. Garcia put it rather succinctly: “If you have stress, your risk for stroke is heightened.”

Furthermore, those who exhibited the most Type A personality traits saw their risk of stroke nearly double. A history of smoking and drinking more than two energy drinks a day also doubled the risk of stroke. Those participants with a disturbance in their heart rhythm were more than three times as likely to have a stroke than their healthy counterparts. Participants who often found themselves sleepy in the middle of the day saw their risk of stroke increase three-fold. Most surprisingly, being a man increased the risk of stroke none-fold.

According to the research, when all other facts are considered together, the risk of stroke was mostly associated with living a stressful life and exhibiting Type A behaviors was greatly increased, despite any other risk factors, including gender and an unhealthy lifestyle.

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