Aggressive behaviour 'doubles risk of stroke': It's as big a danger as smoking, claim researchers
Personality traits can raise the risk of strokeBeing aggressive, quick-tempered and impatient can increase the risk of stroke as much as smoking
Spanish scientists looked at participants' chronic stress levels and biological risk factors
21:30 GMT, 29 August 2012
Aggressive, quick-tempered people are more than twice as likely to suffer a stroke, a study has shown.
It found that having a ‘type A personality’ – indicated by behaviours including hostility, aggression, impatience and a quick temper – could raise the risk of stroke as much as smoking.
Spanish scientists compared 150 adults who had been admitted to a stroke unit with 300 randomly selected healthy people from the same area.
Personality increases stroke risk: Being aggressive, quick-tempered or impatient can raise the risk of stroke as much as smoking
The average age of the participants was 54.
Their levels of chronic stress were assessed by looking at symptoms such as anxiety and depression, general wellbeing and behaviour patterns.
Chronic stress is linked to a high risk of stroke, which kills around 67,000 Britons a year, and personality traits can have a big effect.
Biological risk factors, including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol were assessed for the study, as well as lifestyle factors such as caffeine and alcohol intake, smoking, and if the participant had a partner and job.
The study, published online in the Journal of Neurology, Neuro-surgery and Psychiatry, showed that having a high score on the stress scale – indicative of a type A personality – more than doubled stroke risk.
A history of smoking also increased the risk two-fold.
Those with aggressive, stress-prone
personalities were found to be particularly at risk irrespective of
other factors, including gender and an unhealthy lifestyle.
Risk of stroke was also almost four times higher among those who had experienced a major life event, such as a bereavement, in the previous year, compared with controls.
Dr Jose Antonio Egido, a neurologist at San Carlos University Hospital in Madrid, said: ‘Patterns of behaviour can reflect the capacity to adapt to a stressful life.
‘We found individuals with high levels of competitiveness and aggression are, following adjustment, 2.2-fold more likely to suffer a stroke compared with controls.
‘We did not observe gender having a significant effect on these findings.’
He said stroke was one of the principal causes of death worldwide, adding: ‘Addressing the influence of psychophysical factors [such as stress] on stroke could constitute an additional thera-peutic line in the primary prevention of stroke in the at-risk population and, as such, warrants further investigation.’