Is stress the sole culprit behind rising stroke cases? An expert busts the myth

Stress can be a contributing factor in increasing stroke risk, but is it the biggest risk factor? Find out more about the link between stroke and stress.
View All Images stress and stroke
Is stress the only cause of stroke? Image courtesy: Adobe stock
Dr Sunil Singla Published: 16 Nov 2023, 10:30 am IST
  • 195

Stress has long been identified as a significant factor contributing to various health issues, including cardiovascular diseases. Among these, strokes are a major global cause of death and disability because they are characterized by abnormal blood flow to the brain. Stress undoubtedly contributes to the risk of stroke, but blaming it as the only factor ignores how complicated this potentially fatal illness is.

What is a stroke?

A stroke, also known as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), occurs when there is a sudden interruption or reduction of blood supply to the brain, leading to a lack of oxygen and nutrients. The lack of blood flow can cause brain cells to die, potentially leading to serious consequences such as loss of motor control, speech impairment, or cognitive deficits. Strokes are medical emergencies, and immediate treatment is crucial to minimise damage and improve outcomes.

Also Read: Stroke: Here’s what you must remember from onset to treatment

Stress can cause a stroke. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Is stress the only cause of a stroke?

Stroke can be attributed to a myriad of factors including hypertension, high cholesterol levels, smoking, obesity, diabetes, and sedentary lifestyles. Stress is not the only factor contributing to the web of issues that result from these factors interacting frequently. Age and genetic predisposition also play a major role in stroke vulnerability, highlighting the complex character of this illness.

Stress, especially chronic stress, can indeed elevate blood pressure and contribute to unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, all of which are risk factors for stroke. Stress hormones like cortisol, when consistently elevated, can damage blood vessels and the heart, increasing the likelihood of stroke. In addition, stress can result in obesity, impaired immunological function, and disturbed sleep habits, all of which have an indirect impact on the risk of stroke.

Also Read: Shoo away stress from your life with these relaxation tips

Why are young people more prone to stroke?

In recent years, a concerning trend has emerged in the field of healthcare. An increasing number of young adults are suffering from stroke. Stroke was always thought to be a disease that only affected the old, but it is increasingly striking people in their 20s and 30s. Several factors contribute to this phenomenon.

1. Obesity

The rise in obesity among young people has significantly elevated their risk of stroke. Poor diet choices, lack of physical activity, and sedentary lifestyles contribute to obesity, which in turn increases the chances of hypertension and diabetes, both major stroke risk factors.

2. Increased use of technology

Young people now lead increasingly sedentary lives as a result of the widespread use of technology. Excessive screen time not only hampers physical activity but also contributes to increased stress and disrupted sleep patterns, further escalating the risk of stroke.

3. Susbstance abuse

Additionally, substance abuse, especially the misuse of drugs and alcohol, has become prevalent among young adults. Substance abuse can lead to high blood pressure, a primary cause of stroke. Moreover, the lack of awareness about stroke symptoms and prevention strategies among the youth delays crucial medical interventions.

Select Topics of your interest and let us customize your feed.


How to manage stress to avoid stroke risk?

While stress is a significant concern, it’s vital to recognise the interconnection between mental health and stroke risk. Anxiety and sadness, for example, can cause physiological alterations and harmful habits that increase the risk of stroke. It is essential to acknowledge and address mental health concerns, pivotal in a holistic approach to stroke prevention.

Numerous factors, such as genetics, lifestyle decisions, and underlying medical disorders, might increase the risk of stroke. A nuanced understanding of these complexities is essential in developing effective prevention strategies. It is possible for society to drastically lower the incidence of stroke and create the conditions for a healthier future by emphasising general well-being, encouraging healthy living, and including mental health assistance.

stress and stroke
You can manage stress to ward off the risk of developing stroke. Image courtesy: Freepik

How to prevent stroke?

It is essential to address the root causes comprehensively to prevent stroke effectively:

  • Encouraging regular physical activity
  • Promoting a balanced diet
  • Discouraging smoking
  • Advocating for stress management techniques are all integral components of stroke prevention
  • Managing underlying health conditions like hypertension and diabetes through medication and lifestyle modifications is crucial

In conclusion, addressing this concerning issue requires a multifaceted approach. It is crucial to run educational campaigns about stress management, healthy living, and the risks associated with substance usage. In addition, encouraging physical exercise and routine checkups can greatly reduce the risk, guaranteeing a better future for the next generation.

  • 195
About the Author

Dr Sunil Singla has 15 years of experience as a neurologist. He did his MBBS and MD (Medicine) from B.J. Medical College, Ahmedabad. He later pursued his DM (Neurology) from G.B. Pant Hospital, New Delhi/Delhi University. He has vast experience of working in intensive care units and mechanical ventilation. He is the Director and Head of Department - Neurology, Sanar International Hospitals. ...Read More

Next Story