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Stress, Depression Linked to Raised Stroke Risk in Seniors
Date:12/13/2012

By Barbara Bronson Gray
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Stressed out? A new study suggests that learning to deal effectively with life's challenges may help you reduce your risk of stroke, especially as you age.

Researchers found that people over 65 with the highest levels of psychosocial distress -- including depression, a negative outlook and dissatisfaction with life -- had triple the risk of death from stroke as compared with those who had lower levels of stress.

"Emotions have a significant impact on health, and people know when they're feeling stressed out," said study author Susan Everson-Rose, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis. "It's important that they recognize the physical impact of these psychological factors and practice relaxation techniques proactively."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of long-term disability.

The researchers were interested in finding risk factors for stroke that people could actually change. Previous studies have linked depression with increased stroke risk, especially in women, but some research focusing just on women has suggested that the risk may extend beyond sadness to include situations in which people develop a negative outlook on life. The authors wanted to test the concept on a broader population with a wider set of psychological issues.

The study, published online Dec. 13 and in the January print issue of the journal Stroke, used data from the 1997-1999 Chicago Health and Aging Project, research that involved interviews in participants' homes on the south side of Chicago. The surveyors asked 4,120 black and white adults aged 65 and older questions about their symptoms of depression, perceived stress, signs of anxiety, anger, feelings of vulnerability and lif
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