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Anxiety may contribute to stroke risk: study

January 15, 2014

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Pittsburgh – Chronic anxiety may increase the risk of stroke, according to a new study from the University of Pittsburgh.

Using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers tracked a sample of 6,019 people 25-74 years old for 22 years. Participants were administered interviews, blood tests, medical questionnaires and physical questionnaires to measure anxiety and depression, and strokes were determined from hospital or nursing home records and death certificates.

People with the highest levels of anxiety were found to be 33 percent more likely to have a stroke than participants with the least anxiety, according to a press release from the American Heart Association, which published the study in its journal.

Researchers said possible factors may be that people with anxiety may smoke or forgo exercise, as well as have high heart rate or blood pressure. Noting that anxiety is modifiable, researchers suggested assessing and treating it to improve heart health.

The study was published online Dec. 19 in the journal Stroke.