Background and Purpose- It is unclear whether anxiety is a risk factor for stroke. We assessed the association between anxiety and the risk of incident stroke.
Methods- This population-based cohort study was based on 2 rounds of the Rotterdam Study. Each round was taken separately as baseline. In 1993 to 1995, anxiety symptoms were measured using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale-Anxiety (HADS-A). In 2002 to 2004, anxiety disorders were assessed using the Munich version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Participants were followed up for incident stroke until January 2012.
Results- In the sample undergoing HADS-A (N=2625; mean age at baseline, 68.4 years), 332 strokes occurred during 32 720 years of follow-up. HADS-A score was not associated with the risk of stroke during complete follow-up (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.02; 95% confidence interval, 0.74-1.43; for HADS-A≥8 compared with HADS-A <8), although we did find an increased risk after a shorter follow-up of 3 years (adjusted hazard ratio, 2.68; 95% confidence interval, 1.33-5.41). In the sample undergoing the Munich version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (N=8662; mean age at baseline, 66.1 years), 340 strokes occurred during 48 703 years of follow-up. Participants with any anxiety disorder had no higher risk of stroke than participants without anxiety disorder (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.95; 95% confidence interval, 0.64-1.43). We also did not observe an increased risk of stroke for the different subtypes of anxiety.
Conclusions- Anxiety disorders were not associated with stroke in our general population study. Anxiety symptoms were only related to stroke in the short term, which needs further exploration.

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Department of Epidemiology