Hope Prevents Stroke?

New data suggest that optimism may lower the risk of stroke.

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef (an unusual nickname for Jennifer) got her master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses. After four years of diving off the Gulf...

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Jul 22, 2011


In addition to improving one’s mental health, optimism may also provide physical benefits, by lowering the risk of stroke, the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to a new study published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association. Among 6,044 adults over the age of 50, self-reported optimism correlated with a decrease in acute stroke risk over the following two years: for every point increase on standard cognitive test for optimism (a 16-point scale), stroke risk decreased by 9 percent.

Earlier studies have also associated optimism with better heart health and enhanced immune functioning, but this is the first evidence that a positive outlook on life may also help prevent stroke. "Our work suggests that people who expect the best things in life actively take steps to promote health," taking vitamins, eating healthy, and exercising, Eric Kim, study lead author and...

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