Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh have found a link between high anxiety levels and an increased Stroke risk.
The long-term study was published December 19th in the online edition of the journal Stroke.
The team of researchers from the department of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, collected data on more than 6,000 people enrolled in the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I).
Then for 22 years, the researchers kept track of Strokes among the participants by using hospital records, nursing home records, and death certificates.
The findings of the study could be a major breakthrough in the treatment and prevention of Stroke, which is the number four killer in America.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists Stroke as the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. But for some reason, Stroke does not get the publicity given to other leading cause of death: heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes, influenza, and suicide.
The study also helps explain why some people who have had a Stroke don’t have any of the known risk factors, other than being a male over the age of 55 who has a personal or family history of Stroke.
That leaves doctors caught between a rock and a hard place as they try to figure out how to prevent another Stroke when the patient doesn’t have any of the known risk factors.
According to the Mayo Clinic there are 11 treatable risk factors and 4 non-treatable risk factors for Stroke.
Treatable risk factors
- High blood pressure
- Cigarette smoking
- High cholesterol
- Being overweight or obese
- Physical inactivity.
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Cardiovascular disease, including heart failure, heart defects, heart infection or abnormal heart rhythm
- Use of some birth control pills or hormone therapies that include estrogen.
- Heavy or binge drinking.
- Use of illicit drugs
Non-treatable risk factors
- Personal or family history of Stroke, heart attack, or TIA (mini-Stroke).
- Being age 55 or older.
- Race — African-Americans have higher risk of Stroke than people of other races.
- Gender — Men have a higher risk of Stroke than women.
For people who have none of these risk factors there has been no answer to the question, “What can we do to prevent another Stroke?
Until now, the only answer to that question has been, “There’s nothing we can do.”
That’s a hard pill to swallow when you, or someone you love, has already had a Stroke and is looking death in the face every day, waiting for the next Stroke to hit.
That’s the way it is with Stroke: If you’ve had one, you will have another, and it will be worse than the previous Stroke.
But now there is something we can do to prevent another Stroke: Reduce the stress level.
If you know a male over the age of 55 who has had a Stroke; doing the little things to reduce their stress level just may save their life.
If you don’t live with them, reach out; get together for coffee or lunch. Call or stop by for a visit.
If you do live with them, do the little things that make life easier and more pleasant
It doesn’t cost a cent to reduce the stress level, but it just might save a life.