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Stressful habits and type A behavior correlate with an increased risk of stroke, according to a study published online Aug. 27 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.
21st century lifestyles are typically characterized by increased stress levels experienced in the daily business of living. A delayed appointment, a burnt dinner or even an absent housekeeper can cause stress reactions in the body. Stress is the body’s reaction to a perceived threat. For example, no housekeeper could mean a load of housework or a burnt dinner could imply waste of money. The human body manifests stress by releasing hormones and harmful chemicals into the blood stream or by tensing and tightening the muscles.
The important thing to remember here is that is it not the situation that is causing the stress but the individual’s reaction to it that triggers stress symptoms. Type A personality traits on the other hand is related to certain patterns of behavior. The major characteristics of type A behavior is aggression, impatience, obsessive behavior, competitiveness and tension. Many successful, achievement-oriented people correspond to Type A personalities. The common thread that links stress and type A behavior is that both are direct contributing factors leading to the increased risk of stroke, according to Journal of Neurology, neurosurgery and Psychiatry.
Type A personalities are also identified by certain physical features like excessive facial sweating on the forehead, grinding of teeth and a certain facial tension. This facial tension is indicated by clenched teeth or a taut jaw line.
Stress can affect people in various ways. Prolonged stress can result in backaches, depression, increased blood pressure, acidity and even insomnia. People who exhibit characteristics of type A behavior are more likely to suffer from stress.
How is type A behavior and consequently stress linked to increased risk of stroke?
Some people have lower coping mechanisms to handle stress than others. When they are exposed to a stressful situation, their reaction leads to an increase of stress. Increased stress leads to high blood pressure. High blood pressure is the major cause of strokes. So this is a chain reaction that begins from type A behavior and leads to stress and finally paves the way for a stroke.
The sudden spike in blood pressure causes blood vessels to expand correspondingly to allow blood flow despite the increased pressure. Normally when the stress disappears, blood pressure goes down and the blood vessels go back to their normal sizes. But in the case of prolonged stress attacks or chronic stress, the blood vessels stay distended for longer periods of time eventually leading to a stroke.
Medical statistics indicate that people with type A personalities are 84% more likely to get strokes than people with other personality types. Strokes occur when a blood vessel situated in the brain ruptures or bursts due to high blood pressure. The blood vessel over-dilates to accommodate high blood flow rates and then breaks. The result of a stroke can be instantaneous death or the patient could go into coma.
Consciously Controlling stress levels
Stress can be successfully handled by taking up meditation and yoga. Both help calm down your mind and body and consequently act as great stress busters. By taking responsibility to control your stress levels, you can prevent your risk of strokes.
Other methods include incorporating healthy eating habits, getting regular exercise and enjoying a full eight hours of quality sleep at night. These lifestyle changes will help you reduce stress levels and thereby minimize the possibility of suffering a stroke.