The pressure of maneuvering increasingly challenging and uncertain times can take a toll on our mental health. Sadly, the resulting stress can trigger other serious health issues. Most people already know that high cholesterol and high blood pressure can cause a stroke. But you have probably asked yourself: can stress cause a stroke or heart attack?
Well, a stress-out day might not increase your stroke risk. But there has been mounting evidence showing that stress is one of the risk factors for stroke. That is what we will discuss in this post.
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1. How Does Stress Cause a Stroke?
A Stroke usually happens when the blood flow to the brain is interfered with by clogged blood vessels, a blood clot, or bleeding in the brain. When your brain is deprived of oxygen-rich blood, brain cells will die. As a result, speech difficulties, paralysis, muscle weakness, and balance or memory issues may occur.
As you may know, anxiety and chronic stress increase inflammation in arteries and sometimes throughout the body. If not checked this inflammation may stiffen or narrow the blood vessels, reducing the blood flow to the brain. Besides this, stress may trigger blood pressure. Consistently high blood pressure can weaken and narrow blood vessels, making it easier for vessels to leak or blood clots to form. These blood flow issues will eventually trigger a stroke.
So, this leads us to the actual question, which is:
2. Can Stress Alone Cause a Stroke?
Emotional disorders such as stress usually affect your health negatively. As we learned above, they can trigger conditions that lead to insufficient flow of blood to the brain. While it may not be the main cause, stress will increase the risk of stroke.
Several studies have proven that even a slight increase in anxiety and stress levels may increase your stroke risk. A 2012 study discovered that people who had a history of chronic stress were four times more likely to suffer a stroke. But the same study also shows that people who experience intermittent periods of stress triggered by arguing are unlikely to suffer a stroke.
Researchers in China reviewed six studies involving 138,782 participants. The study, which is published in the journal Neurology, found a link between work stress and stroke risk. Scientists found that jobs with low control and high demands were 22% more likely to cause future stroke than low demanding jobs.
Likewise, a publication in the Stroke journal examined over 6,000 people to determine how stress can raise stroke risk. Surprisingly, a third (33%) of the participants who reported greater stress and depression levels were more likely to have a stroke.
3. How Stress Causes a Stroke in Different Situations
Your emotional state plays a crucial role in the development of daily activities. Anxiety, stress, and depression can increase the risk of stroke in different species and situations. These are mentioned below.
1. Can Stress Cause a Stroke in Young Adults?
Contrary to the popular assumption that stroke is a disease of later life, young adults are also at risk of stroke. True, your stroke risk rises with age, but you should not assume you are too young for a stroke. In fact, about 10% to 14% of strokes are associated with young adults below 45 years. The incidence of ischemic stroke among young adults has increased over the last couple of years. Cross-sectional evidence shows that psychological stress is a greater predictor of stroke in young adults.
2. Can Stress Cause A Stroke in The Elderly
According to researchers, chronic stress and depressive symptoms can increase the risk of stroke in older people. These professionals also found out that feelings of hostility are likely to trigger cerebrovascular disease.
The study, published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, involved 6,700 participants between 45 and 84 years. As it turned out, people who had high scores on depressive symptoms were 89% more likely to suffer a stroke than those with healthy psychological scores.
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3. Can Stress and Anger Cause a Stroke?
While stress is to blame for stroke, it is not always clear if negative feelings, anger, and related emotions can trigger stroke. Still referring to the above study on stroke in old people, researchers found out that feelings of hostility may double the risk of stroke. So, people’s cynical expectations of other parties’ motives could negatively affect their health. Thankfully, feelings of anger have no direct correlation to stroke.
4. Can Stress and High Blood Pressure Cause a Stroke?
As we discussed earlier, blood pressure can cause blood clots or narrowed blood vessels. If blood clots form on the arteries that are leading to your brain, it may trigger stroke. So, besides stress, hypertension can also cause stress. In fact, most strokes are strongly linked to high blood pressure. The thing is that stress and high blood pressure are interlinked.
Unfortunately, uncontrolled blood pressure can cause damage to your body even before the symptoms appear. It will not only damage your arteries, but it will also damage your heart and brain. To survive and work properly, your heart depends on a healthy blood supply.
5. Can Stress Cause Brain Stroke?
Different sections of the brain control various bodily functions. So, any interference of a section could trigger a stroke on any part of the body. The worse thing is when the brain itself suffers a stroke. Chronic stress may cause increased blood pressure in the brain, leading to blood leakage. The sad thing is that hemorrhage stroke can happen instantly.
6. Can Stress Cause a Stroke in Dogs?
Dogs or pets can have strokes just like humans. While pets experience a stroke less frequently, they usually experience it on a grander scale. Another fact is that dogs usually suffer a stroke because of underlying diseases such as heart disease, bleeding disorders, cancer, and hypertension. What remains unclear is if stress can cause stroke in a dog. But what we know is that stress-inducing situations may cause temporary elevations in blood pressure, which is associated with stroke.
7. Can Stress Cause a Stroke in Cats?
The same conditions that trigger a stroke in humans can also cause stroke in cats. In most cases, underlying diseases such as hypertension, kidney failure, and heart disease are the main suspects. Unfortunately, there is no clear link between stress in cats and increased stroke risk. Nevertheless, stress can exacerbate existing conditions that may cause a stroke. Though rare, traumas in pets can also cause vessels to rupture.
8. Can Stress Cause a Stroke Like Symptoms?
Sometimes, you may be stressed out and probably worrying if you are having a stroke or you just don’t feel right. Anxiety, blood pressure change, and stress can make you feel weak and weird. Surprisingly, several other things can mimic stroke symptoms. Sadly, stress is one of them. A person could experience a rapid change in their speech and vision because of anxiety and stress. A transient ischemic attack (TIA) or a mini-stroke often has symptoms similar to those of stress – for instance, migraines, and rapid heartbeat, – but they usually disappear quickly.
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While some stressors are unavoidable, finding ways to regulate stress can help lower your stroke risk. Unfortunately, most people usually ignore stress, which often leads to severe problems; stroke is just one of them. You can manage chronic stress through relaxation, enough sleep, positivity, and other stress management techniques. Ongoing stressors like interpersonal issues or work pressure can be controlled with the help of a therapist.