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Chronic Stress Sufferers and Type 'A' People at Risk for Stroke

Update Date: Aug 30, 2012 01:18 PM EDT

Stress, defined by the American Psychological Association as "any uncomfortable emotional experience accompanied by predictable biochemical, physiological and behavioral change," can have disastrous effects on a person's physical and mental well-being. While some claim to work efficiently under pressure and stress, the long-term effects of "working great" can leaving you feeling miserable.

A recent study published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry reveals that people with chronic stress and a type A personalities (linked to hostility, aggression, impatience and a quick temper) are at high risk for strokes.

Unlike stress, which is a common manifestation of problems and outside pressures, chronic stress, is a response to stressors lasting longer than 6 months and has since been linked to a heightened risk of heart disease; however its impact on the risk of stroke has not been clear.

The findings were based on 150 adults, with an average age of 54, who had been admitted to one stroke unit, and 300 randomly selected healthy people of a similar age who lived in the same neighborhood, according to the British Medical Journal.

Taking a variety of social factors and life-style habits into account, including martial and employment status and caffeine, alcohol and energy drink intake, researchers found that, compared with the healthy comparison group, the risk of a stroke was almost four times higher among those who had experienced a major life event in the previous year or those struggling with high environmental stressors.

Furthermore, those with heart rhythm disturbances were shown to be more than three times as likely to have a stroke while those with a high daytime sleepiness score almost tripled their risk.

And being a man boosted the risk nine-fold.

Taken together, the risk of a stroke was associated with a stressful life and type A behaviors. And this held true, irrespective of other risk factors, including gender and an unhealthy lifestyle.

AbcNEWS reports that previous studies have linked stress to the common cold, cancer and heart disease. And people with optimistic outlooks, who expect the best in uncertain times, are less likely to suffer strokes, according to a 2011 study published in the journal Stroke.

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