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Stress May Increase the Risk for Stroke in Patients Treated for Hypertension

By Melissa Kluczynski, MS

The definition of stress is twofold: it is a feeling of emotional or physical tension usually caused by a stressor (e.g., job-related stress), and also refers to the body’s response to a challenge or demand. We all get stressed from time to time, but have you ever wondered how it is affecting your health? Dr. Huan Li and colleagues examined the relationship between psychological stress and risk of first stroke in adults with hypertension in a new study titled, ‘Self-Perceived Psychological Stress and Risk of First Stroke in Treated Hypertensive Patients.’ Previous research has found that stress increases the risk for cardiovascular disease and hypertension; however, less is known about the relationship between stress and the risk for stroke.

The China Stroke Primary Prevention Trial (CSPPT) was a randomized, double-blind trial conducted from May 2008 to August 2013 in China; and was designed to investigate how effective enalapril (an ACE inhibitor used to treat hypertension) plus folic acid (B vitamin) was for reducing the risk of first stroke in adults with hypertension compared to enalapril alone. Patients were included in the CSPPT if they were between the ages of 45 and 75 years and had hypertension defined as either 1) blood pressure greater than or equal to 140/90 mmHg or 2) taking antihypertensive medication. Any patients with a history of cardiovascular disease, including stroke, were excluded. The current study included 20,688 patients who reported their level of stress by answering a single question, “How would you describe your psychological stress in daily life or work (