Severe anxiety leads to an increased likelihood of suffering a stroke for both men and women, according to a new study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
“Assessment and treatment of anxiety has the potential to not only improve overall quality of life, but may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke, later in life,” study co-author Maya J. Lambiase told Reuters.
According to the study, which analyzed data from 6,019 men and women over about 16 years, anxiety is responsible for a relatively small uptick, 14%, in the risk of suffering a stroke, one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.
Dr. Philip Muskin, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, emphasized meditation and breathing techniques as safe and effective ways to manage anxiety. “Doing nothing leaves you at a higher risk [of stroke],” he said, while breathing exercises have “a psychologically beneficial effect.”