Study shows stress and stroke unrelated

New research has revealed that stressful life events are unlikely to cause stroke. Researchers set out to determine the relationship between life events and subarachnoid haemorrhage – the most lethal type of stroke, that is most often due to rupture of aneurysms (‘blisters’) of the blood vessels in the brain. To date, very little evidence exists on this topic.

“Contrary to common perception, our research shows that there is no relationship between stress and stroke”, said Professor Craig Anderson, Senior Director, The George Institute.

A total of 432 patients who survived a stroke were interviewed on stressful life events in the twelve months prior to their stroke. Patients were asked about a number of life events, including if they were a victim of abuse, had experienced an injury or serious illness, had recently moved, experienced work stress, financial difficulties or death of a family or friend.

17 million people are afflicted by stroke each year. Subarachnoid haemorrhage is one of the more serious types of strokes that mostly affect young to middle aged adults. Lead author of the paper, PhD student Ivy Shiue added, “These results are fascinating, as many people, even clinicians, commonly surmise that stress plays a significant role in stroke. We found a marginal relationship between financial and legal problems and subarachnoid haemorrhage, but this link was likely due to chance or recall bias.”

“We know that genetics play a role with this type of stroke, and that cigarette smoking and high blood pressure play a significant role. Females are also more likely to experience this type of stroke. Certainly the best way of prevention will be blood pressure control and smoking cessation”, added Professor Anderson.

These results are from the Australasian Cooperative Research on Subarachnoid haemorrhage (ACROSS) Study and were published in Stroke.