Does feeling anxious often put you at more risk of having a stroke? New research seems to be saying so. According to researchers of a study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institute of Mental Health, the greater your anxiety level, the more at risk you will be of having a stroke.
The researchers looked into a nationally representative group from the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey or NHANES I. The study covered a 22-year period and involved a group of 6,019 participants with ages ranging from 25 to 74 years old. Participants underwent an interview, medical examinations, blood tests and filled up psychological questionnaires to measure their anxiety and depression levels. The researchers then tracked the incidence of strokes among the participants through hospital or nursing home reports and death certificates.
After taking other factors into account, the researchers found out that even modest increases in anxiety levels can be linked to greater risk for stroke. Participants in the study who belonged in the highest third in terms of anxiety levels also had a 33 percent higher risk of stroke compared to those at the lowest levels.
According to Maya Lambiase, Ph.D., study author and cardiovascular behavioral medicine researcher in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, “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.”
“People with high anxiety levels are more likely to smoke and be physically inactive, possibly explaining part of the anxiety-stroke link. Higher stress hormone levels, heart rate or blood pressure could also be factors,” Lambiase also added.
The study was the first one to ever link anxiety to the risk of stroke. Findings of the new research are published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.