Can Stress Cause A Stroke or Heart Attack?

How you think and feel every day can affect your body physically. Stress can be a normal part of your psychological or physical reaction to certain conditions (either good or bad situation) that you are experiencing in your life. But when you lose control on it, this can be a problem that can affect your overall health. For this situation, it may increase the risk of stroke and heart attack, according to some studies.

How does stress affect your body?

It can cause bad effect on your body physically, on your mood, and even on your character /behavior.

image_illustration66When it affects your behavior, this can can include social withdrawal, abusing alcohol or even drug, becoming an addicted smoker, and easier to get angry. Sometime changes in the habit of eating (such as under eating or over eating) may also occur in some people with high stress.

Then the effects on your mood can include the increasing risk of getting depression, sadness, irritability, difficulty in concentrating, poor in motivation, restlessness, and anxiety. Changes in mood due to stress have been studied for many years, but  unfortunately the link of both problems is still not fully understood.

How about with the effect to your physical health? There is a wide range of physical health problems associated with stress.

These can include insomnia /sleep problems, weakness /fatigue, stomach /gastric upset, chest pain, muscles tension or even muscles pain, headache, stroke, and heart disease – or maybe hair loss.

Can stress be a risk factor of stroke?

According to an outline released by the University of Maryland ‘Medical School’, stress can increase the risk of stroke – but fortunately, it is categorized into a group of risk factors that can be changed through lifestyle modifications.

In other words, though many times it can be inevitable condition, but it can be managed!

Are there any scientific evidences to confirm the link of both problems?

In a report published by the American Stroke Association, people who can cope with their stress are less likely to develop stroke than others who are highly stressed.

The same result was also showed in a research published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry – 2012. In this Spanish research, having personalities characterized by naturally hostile, impatient, quick-tempered, or aggressive was linked with 2-folds increase in the risk of developing stroke.

However, high stress that occurs too often is only one of the risk factors. Having it doesn’t mean you definitely will develop stroke.

Learn also how likely you are to suffer stroke in this previous section!

How does stress affect your chance of developing stroke?

There are some reasons. Stress can lead to a sudden increase in your BP (blood pressure). Many times, the effect is temporary but can be very dramatic.

It’s perfectly normal to occasionally experience stress, but when you lose control on it or if it becomes chronic /occurs too often in your life, this can be bad for the health of your blood pressure. And we know well that high blood pressure ‘hypertension’ often become a leading risk factor of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.

Another reason is excessive stress can trigger other lifestyle risk factors of stroke.

During stressful period, you are more likely to smoke more cigarettes, drink more alcohol, eat more foods (more common in women) and get lazy in exercising that can cause lack of physical activity and obesity. All these things are risk factors of both hypertension and stroke.

How about with the risk of heart disease or heart attack?

Again, it’s perfectly normal and even expected to occasionally experience stress in your life. Stress can be helpful to make you more aware if there is a situation that threats you. It also can help you finish a task on time, and many more.

However if left managed or when it occurs ‘unexpected’, it can be harmful for the health of your cardiovascular system which then may cause chest pain, irregular heartbeats, heart disease, or heart attack!

Even according to a report written in the Harvard Heart Latter, the link between stress /other psychosocial factors and heart disease may be much stronger than what we know.

However, there is still no clearly answer to explain this issue. Its dramatic impact on blood pressure may be still the key answer.

Furthermore, experts believe that while it can be a risk factor of heart disease – according to Mayo Clinic, it also can be potential to worsen hypertension and high LDL ‘bad cholesterol’ (both problems are the major risk factors of heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases).