WEDNESDAY, Feb. 1, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- High levels of a personality trait called harm avoidance -- which includes excessive worrying, pessimism, fear and fatigue -- is associated with a higher stroke risk, a new study indicates.
It included 1,082 older adults without dementia who were rated on the 35-item Harm Avoidance Scale. During 3-1/2 years of follow-up, 258 of the participants died. Of those, 80 percent underwent a brain autopsy.
People who scored high on the Harm Avoidance Scale had a 2.4 times increased risk of microscopic stroke and a 1.8 times increased risk of a stroke that's easily visible in the brain.
The link between high levels of harm avoidance and increased stroke risk remained after researchers accounted for brain and motor function, cardiovascular risk factors and conditions, and neuroticism.
The study was to be presented Wednesday at the American Stroke Association meeting in New Orleans.
Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about stroke risk factors and symptoms.