Looking on the bright side could reduce stroke risk

People with a more positive outlook on life may have a lower stroke risk, a new study suggests.

The University of Michigan study rated the optimism levels of 6,044 adults over 50 on a 16-point scale. Each point increase in optimism was linked to a 9 percent decrease in acute stroke risk over a two-year follow-up period, according to an American Heart Association news release.

Optimism is already associated with better heart health outcomes and enhanced immune system function. Previous research has also shown low pessimism and temporary positive emotions are linked to lower stroke risk, according to the news release.

Optimism may  have an impact on stroke risk because of the behavioral choices people make, such as taking vitamins,  exercising or eating healthier foods, but  there's still some evidence to suggest positie thinking  might have a biological impact, too, the researchers said.

The study was published in the July 21 online edition of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and the top cause of adult disability, according to the American Stroke Association.
 
Other ways to lower stroke risk:
— Eat a healthful diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, along with foods low in saturated fat and foods low in cholesterol and high in fiber.  And limit the sodium.
— Maintain a healthful weight. Being overweight or obese increases stroke risk.
— Be active. It can help maintain healthful weight, lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
–  Don’t smoke. Smoking increases stroke risk.
— Limit alcohol use.
— Take steps to reduce your risk if you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease.

Sources:  American Heart Association, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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