(HealthDay News) – Higher anxiety symptom levels are independently associated with increased risk for incident stroke, according to a study published online Dec. 19 in Stroke.

Maya J. Lambiase, PhD, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and colleagues examined the association between anxiety symptoms and incident stroke using data for 6,019 participants of the longitudinal First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Participants were assessed at baseline and were followed for a mean of 16.29 years.

Based on hospital/nursing home discharge reports and death certificates, the researchers identified 419 incident stroke cases. After adjustment for standard biological and behavioral cardiovascular risk factors, reporting more anxiety symptoms at baseline correlated with an increased risk of incident stroke (hazard ratio, 1.14). After further adjustment for depression, the findings persisted.

“Anxiety is a modifiable experience that is highly prevalent among the general population,” the authors write. “Its assessment and treatment may contribute to developing more effective preventive and intervention strategies for improving overall cardiovascular health.”

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