Blood pressure down, stress up after 30 years

July 16, 2009 by  
Filed under STRESS

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antistressA lot of things have changed in the last 30 years. The first test tube baby was delivered and thousands of IVF babies followed. Medical science has made great advances in fighting cancer and other diseases. If you look back 30 years ago, what has changed in your life?

A Swedish study gives a very good insight as to how middle-age women’s lives have changed (or haven’t changed) during the last 30 plus years. The study is part of the Prospective Population Study of Women in Gothenburg, Sweden which was started during the late 1960s. 1,462 middle-aged Swedish women were followed up into the 21st century, in terms of lifestyle and health, among others.

The study results showed that many things have changed for the better since the initiation of the study, namely:

  • Blood pressure measurements have greatly improved.
  • Serum lipid levels have also significantly improved.
  • Average body mass index did not significantly change.
  • Overall risk factors for cardiovascular disease have significantly decreased.

The researchers attributed these positive changes to healthier lifestyles. In the 60s, for example, only 15% of women exercised regularly. Nowadays it is about 40%.

There is, however, one thing that did not improve but in fact increased for the worse – stress.

At the start of the study (1968 to 1969):

  • 28% of participants reported to be suffering from nervousness.
  • 36% experienced stress.

Reports in 2004 to 2005:

  • 75% of participants reported stress, more than double the numbers 32 years earlier.

This chronic stress seems to take a toll on the health of those suffering from it.

According to researcher Dominique Hange

“The women who stated at the end of the 1960s that they suffered from nervousness or perceived stress had a higher frequency of abdominal problems, asthma, headache, and frequent infections. This is true both at the time they were examined and nearly 25 years later. We could also in a longer perspective, see that the women who were mentally stressed had a higher mortality, and a somewhat higher incidence of breast cancer”.

Despite the great improvement in our lifestyles, has our lives become more stressful? Will stress eventually kill off mankind?

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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