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Chill Out: Greater Anxiety Linked to Higher Stroke Risk

Update Date: Dec 25, 2013 04:34 PM EST
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Chill out if you want to protect your heart. A new study has linked greater anxiety levels to higher risk of stroke.

The latest study is the first to link anxiety and stroke independent of other factors such as depression.

A new study of 6,019 people aged 25 to 74 years old revealed that people in the highest third of anxiety symptoms had a 33 percent higher stroke risk than those with the lowest levels.

After tracking strokes through hospital or nursing home reports and death certificates, researchers linked even modest increases in anxiety to greater stroke risk.

"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," Maya Lambiase, Ph.D., study author and cardiovascular behavioral medicine researcher in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pittsburgh, said in a news release.

The findings held true even after accounting for other factors like depression.

Researchers explained that the higher risk is partly explained by the fact that people with high anxiety level are more likely to smoke and live sedentary lifestyles. Higher levels of stress hormones, blood pressure and heart rate could also contribute to the higher risk.

The findings are published in the journal Stroke.

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