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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 August 2007, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK
Managing stress cuts stroke risk
Stressed man
Stress is thought to have a big impact on the body
Coping well with stress can cut the risk of a stroke by almost a quarter, research shows.

A University of Cambridge team based their conclusion on a seven-year study of more than 20,000 people.

The study, published in the journal Stroke, recorded 452 strokes and more than 100,000 stressful life events among the participants.

Those who were able to take a well-rounded approach to problems had a 24% lower risk of stroke.

This evidence raises the possibility that improving our ability to respond to stress may have benefits for vascular health
Dr Paul Surtees
University of Cambridge

This group were said to have a good sense of coherence - a term coined following research into the experiences of survivors of concentration camps.

Lead researcher Dr Paul Surtees, from the University of Cambridge, said: "Our findings suggest that people who are able to adapt more rapidly to stressful circumstances in their lives had a lower risk of stroke.

"Whilst many questions remain to be answered by further research, this evidence raises the possibility that improving our ability to respond to stress may have benefits for vascular health."

Anecdotal evidence

Dr Surtees said the relationship between stress and stroke was probably complex.

However, he said there was a wealth of anecdotal evidence suggesting a link between the two.

For instance, in the three months following the Kobe earthquake in Japan in 1995 stroke rates among the local population rose by 90%.

Dr Surtees' work also suggests that people who manage stress well tend to lead healthy lifestyles, with plenty of exercise, and low alcohol and smoking rates.

Dr Isabel Lee, from The Stroke Association, which funded the study, said: "It is becoming clear that understanding the very complex nature of stress and its connection to stroke will allow us to design better stroke prevention interventions and help save lives."

An estimated 150,000 people in the UK suffer a stroke each year.

A stroke is the third most common cause of death in the UK, accounting for more than 60,000 deaths a year.

It is also the single most common cause of severe disability. More than 250,000 people live with disabilities caused by stroke.


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