Psychiatric hospitalization may lead to increased stroke risk
“Based on my clinical experience in the hospital, I have noticed that many patients believe that stress for whatever reason — work, family, work-life balance — contributed to their stroke,” Jonah Zuflacht, lead researcher and a fourth-year medical student at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, said. “But the data to support a connection between stress and stroke is limited and often relies on a patient’s subjective recall of distress, which can bias results."
Zuflacht said there are several possible explanations for the study findings. Psychological distress may send the body’s fight-or-flight response into overdrive, causing increased blood pressure — the No. 1 risk factor for stroke.
Psychologic distress may also cause changes within cells that trigger inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which are thought to increase stroke risk. Another possible explanation for the study findings, he said, is that when people experience psychological distress, they may forget to take medicines prescribed to reduce their risk of stroke.
Zuflacht presented his findings during the the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2017 held Feb. 23.