Optimism associated with lower risk of having stroke

July 21, 2011, American Heart Association

A positive outlook on life might lower your risk of having a stroke, according to new research reported in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

In an observational study, a nationally representative group of 6,044 adults over age 50 rated their optimism levels on a 16-point scale. Each point increase in optimism corresponded to a 9 percent decrease in acute over a two-year follow-up period.

"Our work suggests that people who expect the best things in life actively take steps to promote health," said Eric Kim, study lead author and a doctoral student at the University of Michigan.

Optimism is the expectation that more good things, rather than bad, will happen.

Previous research has shown that an optimistic attitude is associated with better heart and enhanced immune-system functioning, among other positive effects.

The study is the first to discover a correlation between optimism and . Previous research has shown that low pessimism and temporary positive emotions are linked to lower stroke risk.

Researchers analyzed self-reported stroke and psychological data from the ongoing Health and Retirement Study, collected between 2006 and 2008. Participants were stroke-free at the beginning of the study.

Researchers measured optimism levels with the modified Life Orientation Test-Revised, a widely used assessment tool in which participants rank their responses on a numeric scale.

The team used logistic regression analysis to establish the association between optimism and stroke and adjusted for factors that might affect stroke risk, including chronic illness, self-reported health and sociodemographic, behavioral, biological and psychological conditions.

"Optimism seems to have a swift impact on stroke," said Kim, noting that researchers followed participants for only two years.

The protective effect of optimism may primarily be due to behavioral choices that people make, such as taking vitamins, eating a healthy diet and exercising, researchers said.

However, some evidence suggests positive thinking might have a strictly biological impact as well.

Stroke is the No. 3 killer in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer, and a leading cause of disability.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Researchers borrow from AIDS playbook to tackle rheumatic heart disease

January 22, 2018
Billions of US taxpayer dollars have been invested in Africa over the past 15 years to improve care for millions suffering from the HIV/AIDS epidemic; yet health systems on the continent continue to struggle. What if the ...

A nanoparticle inhalant for treating heart disease

January 18, 2018
A team of researchers from Italy and Germany has developed a nanoparticle inhalant for treating people suffering from heart disease. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the group describes ...

Starting periods before age of 12 linked to heightened risk of heart disease and stroke

January 15, 2018
Starting periods early—before the age of 12—is linked to a heightened risk of heart disease and stroke in later life, suggests an analysis of data from the UK Biobank study, published online in the journal Heart.

'Decorated' stem cells could offer targeted heart repair

January 10, 2018
Although cardiac stem cell therapy is a promising treatment for heart attack patients, directing the cells to the site of an injury - and getting them to stay there - remains challenging. In a new pilot study using an animal ...

Exercise is good for the heart, high blood pressure is bad—researchers find out why

January 10, 2018
When the heart is put under stress during exercise, it is considered healthy. Yet stress due to high blood pressure is bad for the heart. Why? And is this always the case? Researchers of the German Centre for Cardiovascular ...

Two simple tests could help to pinpoint cause of stroke

January 10, 2018
Detecting the cause of the deadliest form of stroke could be improved by a simple blood test added alongside a routine brain scan, research suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.