Stress, cynicism may raise stroke risk
Risk of stroke may be higher in people who are highly stressed or tend to be cynical, according to a new study.
Over the course of eight to 11 years, scientists at the University of Minnesota collected data on more than 6,700 adults between the ages of 45 and 84. The participants were asked to fill out questionnaires about psychological factors such as stress levels, symptoms of depression and cynical views about other people. The researchers then examined the relationship between the psychological factors and risk of having a stroke. About 200 strokes occurred within the group studied.
After the researchers accounted for known risk factors of stroke—such as age race, sex and health behaviors—they found that people with chronic stress were 59 percent more likely to have a stroke than were the people with the least amount of stress. Also, the participants who reported having the most symptoms of depression were 86 percent more likely to have a stroke than participants with the fewest symptoms of depression.
The study also found that people with the highest levels of cynicism were more than twice as likely to have a stroke than were those with less cynical views.
The findings, published in the journal Stroke, suggest that psychological well-being may play an important role in stroke prevention. Researchers concluded that although there is more to be understood about how emotions affect the heart and brain, it is clear that emotions such as hostility or cynicism do have metabolic, hormonal and immune effects.