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‘Harm Avoidance’ An Indicator Of Strokes

(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

(Dr. Brian McDonough) Dr. Brian McDonough
Dr. Brian McDonough has been medical editor at KYW Newsradio for more...
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By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - It is called “harm avoidance” a personality trait which includes excessive worrying, pessimism, fear and fatigue.

New information from the American Stroke Association meeting has found that it is associated with a higher stroke risk. The study looked at over 1000 older adults without dementia who took a 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 — meaning that they had this trait — 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 importance of this study goes beyond the actual findings because it takes a further look at how the way we approach things can impact our health on a greater level.

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