September 06, 2012
2 min read

Type A personality and stress linked to high risk for stroke

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Type A personality traits and chronic stress were associated with high risk for stroke, according to recent study results published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

“Several studies highlight stress as an independent risk factor in cardiovascular diseases, but there is a dearth of in-depth studies evaluating the psycho-physical bases of stress and stroke,” the researchers wrote.

Jose Antonio Egido, MD, of the stroke unit at the Hospital Clinico Universitario San Carlos in Madrid, and colleagues compared 150 patients aged 18 to 65 years who were admitted to the stroke unit with a diagnosis of stroke with 300 healthy adults who were matched for age and resided in the same neighborhood as the stroke patients.

The researchers measured psychophysical stress based on four assessments: stressful experiences over the previous year; psychosocial problems, including distress, anxiety, social dysfunction and depression; quality of life; and type A behavior patterns.

Type A behaviors included competitiveness, hostility, aggression, impatience and quick temper. Participants were assessed for diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia, history of alterations in cardiac rhythm and atrial fibrillation. Egido and colleagues also looked at lifestyle factors, including smoking and the use of recreational drugs, caffeine, alcohol and energy drinks.

Results showed that risk for stroke was almost four times higher among participants who had experienced a stressful life event in the past year (OR=3.84; 95% CI, 1.91-7.70). Those who exhibited greater type A personality behaviors were at more than twice the risk for stroke (OR=2.23; 95% CI, 1.19-4.18).

Other factors independently associated with a greater risk for stroke included smoking (OR=2.08; 95% CI, 1.01-4.27), male gender (OR=9.33; 95% CI, 4.53-19.22), cardiac arrhythmia (OR=3.18; 95% CI, 1.19-8.15) and high consumption of energy drinks (OR=2.63; 95% CI, 1.30-5.31).

“Addressing the influence of psychophysical factors on stroke could constitute an additional therapeutic line in the primary prevention of stroke in the at-risk population and, as such, warrants further investigation,” the researchers wrote.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.