Amidst the competitive lives that we lead, being stressed is almost inevitable. Previous studies have linked stress with various lifestyle diseases, mental ailments and high blood pressure.
A new study shows that feeling cynical and hostile toward others and having high levels of stress can significantly increase your risk of suffering a stroke. Researchers examined how psychological factors may increase the risk for chronic disease, using data from an ongoing study on cardiovascular disease risk factors with participants living in six US cities. (More: 5 stress busting foods)
More than 6,700 adults (ages 45-84; 53 per cent women) were asked to complete questionnaires assessing chronic stress, depressive symptoms, anger and hostility over two years. Participants were 38.5 per cent white, 27.8 per cent African-American, 11.8 per cent Chinese and 21.9 per cent Hispanic. All of them were healthy and did not suffer with any cardiovascular disease.
In follow-up for an additional 8.5 to 11 years, 147 strokes and 48 TIAs occurred. A TIA is a stroke caused by a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain. When compared to people with the lowest psychological scores, it was found that those with highest scores were 86 per cent more likely to have a stroke or TIA due to high depressive symptoms. Further it was noted that they were 59 per cent more likely to have a stroke or TIA for the highest chronic stress scores and more than twice as likely to have a stroke or TIA for the highest hostility scores. No significant increased risk was linked to anger. (More: Stress can make you consume more sugar)
"There's such a focus on traditional risk factors - cholesterol levels, blood pressure, smoking and so forth - and those are all very important, but studies like this one show that psychological characteristics are equally important," said Susan Everson-Rose, study lead author and associate professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
Other factors like age, race, sex, health behaviours and known risk factors of stroke were taken into consideration to reach this conclusion.
Researchers measured chronic stress in five domains: personal health problems, health problems of others close to the participant, job or ability to work, relationships and finances.
They assessed depressive symptoms with a 20-question scale and analysed anger with a 10-item scale that captured the extent and frequency of experiencing that emotion. Hostility, which is a negative way of viewing the world, was measured by assessing a person's cynical expectations of other people's motives.
To summarize, the study concludes that people with an aggressive lifestyle are more likely to have a stroke.The research was published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.