News) — Could anxiety boost the risk
for stroke? A new long-term study
suggests just that — the greater the
anxiety, the greater the risk for
Study participants who suffered the
most anxiety had a 33 percent
higher risk for stroke compared to
those with the lowest anxiety levels,
the researchers found.
This is thought to be one of the first
studies to show an association
between anxiety and stroke. But not
everyone is convinced the
connection is real.
“I am a little skeptical about the
results,” said Dr. Aviva Lubin,
associate stroke director at Lenox Hill
Hospital in New York City, who had
no part in the study.
The researchers pointed out that
anxiety can be related to smoking
and increased pulse and blood
pressure , which are known risk
factors for stroke. However, Lubin
still has her doubts.
“It still seems a little hard to fully
buy into the fact that anxiety itself
is a major risk factor that we need to
deal with,” she said.
Lubin said that treating risk factors
like smoking, high blood pressure
and diabetes are the keys to
preventing stroke . “I doubt that
treating anxiety itself is going to
decrease the risk of stroke,” she
The report was published Dec. 19 in
the online edition of the journal
The study was led by Maya Lambiase,
a cardiovascular behavioral medicine
researcher in the department of
psychiatry at the University of
Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Her
team collected data on more than
6,000 people aged 25 to 74 when
they enrolled in the first U.S.
National Health and Nutrition
Examination Survey, started in the
These people were interviewed and
had medical tests and completed
questionnaires to assess their levels
of anxiety and depression.
Over the following 22 years, the
researchers used hospital or nursing
home records and death certificates
to keep track of strokes among the
The investigators found that even
after taking into account other
factors, even modest increases in
anxiety were associated with greater
odds of having a stroke.
“Everyone has some anxiety now and
then. But when it’s elevated and/or
chronic, it may have an effect on
your vasculature [blood vessel
system] years down the road,”
Lambiase said in an American Heart
Association news release.
It’s not clear whether anxiety itself
increases the risk of stroke, or if the
rise is due to the behaviors these
people exhibit. For example, people
with high anxiety levels are more
likely to smoke and be physically
inactive, the researchers noted.
In addition, higher stress hormone
levels, heart rate or blood pressure
could also be factors, Lambiase
Although the study found an
association between higher anxiety
levels and increased risk of stroke, it
did not prove a cause-and-effect
Article Link: http://www.webmd.com/