While it is already known that severe stress can lead to heart disease as well as cancer, a new study by the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis found that a person’s mental state of being can affect their physical health in ways they might not even realize, including being more accident prone.
According to a recent study involving more than 5,000 men over the age of 65, older individuals who suffered recent stressful events (including the death of a loved one, economic crises, and even conflicts with adult children) were 41% more likely to fall than those not under duress. However, while their chances of falling increased, study leader Dr. Howard A. Fink, MPH, of the VA’s Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center, did not find them at any greater a risk for fractures (after accounting for any other risk factors).
Fink’s study followed the men for a year, during which time participants filled out surveys regarding stressful life events that had occurred up to one year before the study began. 57% reported having had at least one type of stressful life event.
Information concerning the men's age, educational background, past history of falling, whether they had Parkinson's disease, diabetes, or residual effects of a past stroke that might have impaired daily activities, as well as participants’ risk of experiencing a fracture based on their recent history of stress. history of depression and antidepressant use were all taken into consideration.. In addition, their walking speed and ability to stand up from a chair without help within 30 seconds were all analyzed by the researchers.
In the end it was surmised that the reason stress played such a big role in causing falling accidents was that it “triggered a release of hormones that affected the nervous system which controls coordination and balance.”
Note: Dr. Fink’s study was funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease, the National Institute on Aging, the National Center for Research Resources and the National Institutes of Health Roadmap for Medical Research