Stress, Hostility, and Depression Linked to Stroke Risk

Stressed? Hostile? Depressed? Find a way to solve those problems, stat—or your body might present you with a solution you won’t like.

In a study published in Stroke, researchers concluded that people with high levels of stress, hostility, and depression also enjoy a significantly increased risk of stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), a temporary blockage of blood to the brain. Researchers used the results of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis study (MESA), an ongoing study on cardiovascular disease risk factors using data from more than 6,700 participants, all of whom were free of cardiovascular disease at the start of the study, in six US cities. Compared with mentally healthy people, people with high depressive symptoms were 86% more likely to have a stroke. This number was 59% for people with high chronic stress, and 50% for hostile people. Oddly, people with high levels of anger had no such increase.

“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 Dr. Susan Everson-Rose, the study’s lead author.

Worried? Well, get some help—and soon.

Photo courtesy of Eole Wind

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