Stress Out, Stroke Out

High levels of stress can lead to fatal attacks, Danish study finds

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THURSDAY, March 13, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- People who report they're highly stressed have a greater risk of fatal stroke than those who say they're stress-free.

However, the Danish researchers who reported this finding couldn't determine whether stress was an independent risk factor for stroke.

That's because many of the people in the study who reported being stressed also indulged in many unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, drinking and inactivity. Many were also being treated for high blood pressure.

The study, from Bispebjerg Hospital and the Institute of Preventive Medicine in Copenhagen, found people who reported they had high levels of stress had almost double the risk of fatal stroke. People who said they experienced stress on a weekly basis had a 50 percent greater risk of stroke, compared to people who were the least stressed.

The researchers examined data from the Copenhagen City Heart Study that included 5,604 men and 6,970 women. In 1981 and 1983, the participants were asked about their stress levels.

During 13 years of follow-up, 929 of the participants had a first-ever stroke. Of those, 207 of the participants died within 28 days of suffering a stroke.

Of the 716 people who reported high stress, 59 (8 percent) suffered strokes, with 18 of them suffering a fatal stroke.

Overall, people who reported high stress levels had an 89 percent greater risk of fatal stroke than people who reported rarely or never having stress, according to the study, which appears in the March 14 issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about stroke.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, March 13, 2003

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