Higher anxiety-symptom levels were associated prospectively with increased risk for incident stroke in a recent study.

Higher levels of anxiety are linked with heightened risk for coronary heart disease, acknowledged Maya J. Lambiase, PhD, and colleagues in their writeup for the journal Stroke. However, they noted, few have examined whether anxiety is related to stroke.

Lambiase and team followed 6,019 participants in the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, aged 25 to 74 years. A total of 419 strokes occurred in the study group over the course of 22 years. 

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People who reported more anxiety symptoms at baseline had an increased risk of incident stroke after data were adjusted for standard biological and behavioral cardiovascular risk factors and for depression. People in the highest third of anxiety symptoms had a 33% greater risk of stroke than did those in the lowest third. 

Another study uncovered an additional risk factor for stroke: the use of warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven). Dr. Laurent Azoulay and associates reported in European Heart Journal that warfarin initiation increased stroke risk by 71% during the first 30 days of treatment compared with persons taking no anticoagulant agents, but after the first 30 days, the risk of stroke declined by half. The 30-day risk was particularly high for people who had had a previous ischemic stroke.


  1. Lambiase MJ et al. Stroke. 2013; doi: 10.1161/​STROKEAHA.113.00374.
  2. Azoulay L et al. Eur Heart J. 2013; doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/eht499.