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Study: Prolonged stress common in stroke victims

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

A study undertaken by researchers in Sweden suggests that significant, prolonged stress may be a factor in causing strokes.

The research, published in the journal BMC Medicine, surveyed 600 patients who suffered acute cerebral infarction in Sweden's Sahlgrenska University Hospital, polling for levels of self-perceived psychological stress. The survey responses were then compared with a healthy control group that answered the same questions.

Katarina Jood, researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy summarized the results saying, "We found an independent link between self-perceived psychological stress and stroke. A new finding was that the link between stress and stroke varies between different types of cerebral infarction."

The researcher described that links to stress as a trigger for the stroke were found in cases in which the stroke was caused by blood clots developing in the brain. No correlation was found for strokes in which a clot in the brain originated in the heart.

While stress levels are difficult to quantitatively assess, lab testing for stroke risk factors is available to monitor the flow of blood in the main artery to the brain. Doctors have suggested the carotid ultrasound as an inexpensive procedure to screen for health concerns.

The American Heart Association estimates that about 6.5 million stroke survivors are alive today.

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