Massage therapy is renowned for its stress-relieving properties—but could massage lessen the incidence of stroke?

Many patients admitted to the hospital with stroke symptoms state that they were under great stress over a prolonged period prior to suffering their stroke.

In a patient study conducted in cooperation between the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg and Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Sweden, nearly 600 patients were asked to complete a questionnaire, no later than 10 days after being admitted to the hospital with stroke, or acute cerebral infarction.

In the questionnaire, the patients were asked to choose between six choices to indicate how stressed they had felt before their stroke, from “never been stressed” to “constantly stressed over the past five years.” The patients’ responses were compared with a healthy control group who were asked the same question.

“We found an independent link between self-perceived psychological stress and stroke. A new finding was that the link between stress and stroke varies between different types of cerebral infarction,” said Katarina Jood, a researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy and a neurologist at Sahlgrenska University Hospital. “We do not know why stress appears to play a greater role in particular types of stroke, but it is an important finding as it prompts further studies on what role stress plays in the development of stroke.”

The study is published in the scientific journal BMC Medicine.