Stress is known to put strain on the heart, but a new review of previous studies found a link between job strain and a certain type of stroke.
In this new analysis, which pooled the results of 14 earlier studies from Europe, people with job strain had an increased risk of so-called ischemic stroke. Ischemic strokes happen when the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen – when, for example, the arteries are clogged.
Those with a demanding job and little control over their work environments were categorized as having high job strain. This accounted for 13 to 22 percent of people, depending on the original study. For this group, the risk of ischemic stroke was about 24 percent higher for people in the job strain group than for the others.
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There was no difference in risk of hemorrhagic stroke, in which a blood vessel ruptures and leaks blood into the brain.
This and other studies do not necessarily prove that stressful jobs cause strokes, noted lead author Eleonor I. Fransson of the University in Sweden.
“However, the association is plausible because stress might cause release of stress-related hormones, which in turn affect the metabolic, immunological and cardiovascular systems,” she said. Ischemic stroke, like heart attack, is closely linked to hardening of the arteries.