Anxiety linked to stroke in first-ever study
Researchers looked at more than 6,000 people, 25-74 years old, over a 22 year period and found that as anxiety levels increased, so did the risk for stroke. The findings were published in the American Heart Association (AHA) journal Stroke.
Study participants took psychological surveys, had medical exams and were given blood tests to measure anxiety and depression levels. Researchers defined anxiety as being marked by worry, stress and nervousness.
Armed with this information, study leaders then tracked stroke statistics from hospitals and nursing home to make comparisons. They found that even modest anxiety levels were linked to higher risk for strokes.
Those with the highest levels of anxiety had a 33 percent increased risk for stroke as compared with those with the lowest anxiety levels.
“Everyone has some anxiety now and then. But when it’s elevated and/or chronic, it may have an effect on your vasculature years down the road,” said study leader, Maya Lambiase, of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, in a news release.
The fact that people who struggle with anxiety are more likely to be sedentary and also smoke, may be contributing to the results, researchers said. Additionally, stress induced high blood pressure could also be causing increased risk for stroke.
The news comes on the heels of another troubling report as the AHA reported earlier this month that heart disease and stroke remain the top two killers of Americans annually.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death, with stroke holding fourth place as a leading cause of death. The report said that one person dies every 40 seconds from stroke and heart disease with more than three quarters of a million people dying annually.
The AHA says the primary contributors to stroke and heart and vascular disease are smoking, high cholesterol levels, sedentary lifestyles, poor diet choices, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and obesity.
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