Stroke is supposed to be the number four cause of all deaths and is a leading factor behind mortality in people around the world. It has always been linked with cardiovascular diseases and depression. However, a new study has found that the incidence of stroke is significantly associated with anxiety levels, independent of depression and cardiovascular risk factors. The study, which was published in the recent issue of the journal Stroke, has found that in people whose anxiety levels were the highest, the risk of developing a stroke increased by as much as 33%.
For their study, Dr. Maya J. Lambiase and her colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine followed 6,019 men and women who were participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I) for 16.29 years. The mean age of all the participants was 62±11 years.
The anxiety symptoms in the participants were measured on the General Well Being (GWB) scale. Depression in these individuals was measured on GWB depression subscale (GWB-D) and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies of Depression (CESD) scale. Stroke was identified on the basis of hospital reports and death certificates.
Anxiety increases the risk of stroke
The researchers observed that for every one standard deviation in the anxiety score of the individual, the risk of stroke increased by around 17% after adjusting for confounding factors like age, education and BMI. Taking care of depression in such individuals did not alter the risk of stroke.
Anxiety was found to be linked with stroke even after accounting for factors like congestive heart failure, cardiovascular and renal disease.
There was some impact of behavioral factors on the stroke risk. These factors included smoking and the lack of physical activity. However, these factors did not fully explain the association between anxiety and stroke.
On the basis of these results, the researchers believe that anxiety is associated with an increased risk of mortality due to stroke in patients of coronary heart disease, independent of depression.
Researchers have found that increasing anxiety levels in individuals are associated with an increased risk of mortality due to stroke.