Can stress cause a stroke? The short answer is yes, chronic, long-term stress can eventually lead to a stroke.
So for the sake of saving lives, let’s analyze the link between stress and what causes a stroke.
In this article, you’ll also learn how stress impacts common stroke risk factors, and what some of the major stress factors are.
The Link between Stress and Stroke Risk
Are you a quick-tempered, impatient, aggressive, or hostile person? If so, you have a higher risk of stroke than those who are calm and patient.
Do you live with chronic, long-term stress? If so, your risk of stroke increases four-fold, according to WebMD. Yikes!
The biggest reason why stress leads to stroke is because long-term stress elevates the “stress hormone” called cortisol.
Cortisol increases blood pressure, which is one of the leading causes of stroke. Because when the arteries in the brain are under extra pressure, they could rupture and lead to a hemorrhagic stroke.
Unfortunately, high blood pressure isn’t the only reason why stress leads to stroke.
How Stress Can Cause a Stroke
Living with chronic, long-term stress contributes to a large number of stroke risk factors. And when your stroke risk factors worsen, your risk of stroke increases as well.
Here are some stroke risk factors that are aggravated by chronic stress:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Artery disease (atherosclerosis)
- Heart disease
If you’re thinking to yourself, “Wow, all of these factors are worsened by stress?” Yes.
It’s a scary reality to face, but long-term stress can lead to these potentially stroke-inducing conditions. Here’s how:
Plaque build up in the arteries (atherosclerosis, one of the leading causes of stroke) is worsened by stress
Stress hormones increase blood pressure, and when those hormones are around long-term, it can lead to high blood pressure, the leading cause of stroke.
These stress hormones are also known to lead to diabetes, atherosclerosis, and heart disease – which are all stroke risk factors.
Stress also causes blood sugar levels to increase, potentially leading to diabetes and high cholesterol – more stroke risk factors.
And lastly, smoking is a common coping mechanism for dealing with stress and it’s also one of the leading causes of stroke.
Now let’s discuss the major stress factors that contribute to chronic stress and affect your risk of stroke.
How to Reduce Stress and Thus Reduce Your Risk of Stroke
Researchers who conducted a study on the effects of stress and stroke measured chronic stress in 5 major areas:
- Personal health problems
- Health problems in others close to the patient
- Job or ability to work
Use this list to assess where your chronic stress is coming from.
Are your finances stressing you out? If so, then take some time to sit down and create a budget and a plan for paying off any debt.
Are there a few toxic relationships in your life that completely stress you out? Reflect on them and decide if you need those relationships in your life. Cutting ties might be the best decision for your health.
So take some time to identify where any chronic, long-term stress is coming from and then start taking actions to reduce that stress and your risk of stroke.