Elderly Stroke Risk Increases With Stress And Depression, Says American Heart Association

If you are over the age of 65, your chances of having a stroke can be increased by depression and stress, acccording to a new study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke. The findings indicate that the elderly can face as much as three times the risk of death by stroke when psychosocial distress is a factor.

Clarksville Online writes that the study was conducted over a 10 year period in which researchers measured the rates of death and stroke incidents in 4,120 people in the Chicago Health and Aging Project. Because some study subjects were involved in an HMO researchers were only able to analyze rates of 2,649 of the participants.

The people followed in the study were over the age of 65 and varied in both gender and race. Upon conclusion of the research, 151 deaths from stroke were identified as well as 452 events that resulted in first-time stroke hospitalization.

CBS News reports that researchers used “standardized scales of psychosocial distress that measured perceived stress, life dissatisfaction, “neuroticism” and depressive symptoms” in their study. Psychosocial distress accounted for an increased risk of stroke resulting in death by as much as three times over those suffering less distress. Researchers found that risks did not differ according to race or gender.

The study’s author is Dr. Susan Everson-Rose, an associate director of the Program in Health Disparities Research at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. In a written statement she said the following:

“People should be aware that stress and negative emotions often increase with age. Family members and caregivers need to recognize these emotions have a profound effect on health.”

Do you or a loved one suffer from psychosocial distress factors like depression? What will you do to decrease your risk of stroke?