Anger, negative emotions may trigger stroke

ST. PAUL, Minn. Anger and other negative emotions may be triggers for ischemic stroke, according to a study published in the December 14 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study found that people who had strokes were more likely to have experienced anger or negative emotions in the two hours prior to the stroke than at the same time the day before the stroke. They were also more likely to have reacted quickly to a startling event, such as getting out of bed suddenly after hearing a grandchild fall down and cry or standing up from a chair quickly after hearing an unexpected loud noise.

The people were also more likely to have experienced anger, negative emotions, or sudden changes in body position in the two hours before the stroke than they were, on average, in the year before the stroke.

"We know a lot about risk factors that make people more likely to have a stroke in their lifetime, such as smoking and high blood pressure, but until now we haven't had any information on what causes a stroke to occur at a particular time," said study author Silvia Koton, PhD, MOccH, RN, of Tel Aviv University and the Israel Center for Disease Control. "These findings may help us understand how these triggers result in stroke. We can also investigate whether people at a high risk of stroke can make behavior changes. The possibility of preventive medications to lessen the risk of stroke among specific high-risk groups might also be studied."

The study examined 200 people who were hospitalized with an ischemic stroke or a transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke). Ischemic stroke is caused by reduced blood flow to the brain. It is the most common type of stroke.

The study participants, who had an average age of 68, were interviewed one to four days after the stroke occurred. Approximately 30 percent of patients reported exposure to anger, negative emotions such as fear, irritabili

Contact: Marilee Reu
American Academy of Neurology

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