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Optimism may reduce stroke risk

  • 16 Comments

The likelihood of stroke could be reduced by adopting a positive mental attitude with regards to your future health, latest research indicates.

The optimism levels of more than 6,000 adults aged 50 and over were recorded by researchers who asked them to rank on a 16-point scale how optimistic they felt.

These findings were then compared with the stroke rate of the participants and it was revealed that over two years, there was a 9% reduction in stroke vulnerability for every point increase on the scale.

Optimism has been linked in the past to health benefits such as a healthier immune system.

US scientists working on the study, published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke, made adjustments for factors that might increase the chances of having a stroke such as chronic illness or other health problems as well as social and lifestyle factors.

Eric Kim, a doctoral student at the University of Michigan who led the research, said: “Optimism seems to have a swift impact on stroke.”

  • 16 Comments

Readers' comments (16)

  • michael stone

    I can't help wondering, whether this is 'presented backwards' ?
    Could it be, that the more optimistic one is, the less one worries, and the less 'stressed' one is, and that the link is actually a positive one between being stressed, and having a stroke ?

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  • I would agree with Michael .. However perhaps NT were presenting this in an optimistic light !!

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  • I so much agree with this in theory.

    Trouble is, when you get into the so-called 'health prevention' concept of a plevera of drugs to comply with payment be results, stress levels increase, very counterproductive. Sometimes ignorance can be bliss. Unfortunalely, this is no longer encouraged.

    I have not found, as yet, the outcome of the health conseqences of polypharmacy. This once once adressed, but now seems to be encouraged.

    In a world of cost-effectiveness versus life expectancy, it would appear the former takes presidence

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  • true, perhaps a better quality of life with assurance of more financial stability and security and good medical and social care when needed would be less damaging and more cost effective all round than an unknown quantity of side effects with polypharmacy.

    as so much money is being wasted on research, investigations, data collection, statistics processing and report writing these days without any action being taken on the findings perhaps a little more could be helpfully spent on finding out the consequences and efficacy of polypharmacy!
    and this before use of further polypills becomes general practice for the elderly and others.

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  • michael stone

    'than an unknown quantity of side effects with polypharmacy'

    As an amateur who tries to avoid medics (making me exactly the kind of person the NHS finds problematic) I do, however, have experience of older relatives who were on 'bagfuls of medication'.

    If you are on more than about 3 different medications, and you read the side effects leaflets, then you would be very stressed indeed !

    And my gut instinct, is that the area of drug interactions, as well as the different ways that individuals react to particular drugs, is so complex that it probably is only superficially understood. Speaking not as a clinician, but as someone with a D.Phil in chemistry.

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  • the problem with 'a bagful of medications' is that there is no longer any control on the side effects interactions and benefits of each. It can no longer be determined which medications the patient cannot live without, because they may be or have become dependent upon them, and which are the ones interacting or causing harmful side effects. This makes it very difficult to find and stop the offending ones without causing further harm. This could also make the advent of the 'polypill' for all the elderly highly questionable.

    Joke in yesterday's newspaper:

    Dr. to Pt.: you have to stop drinking for one month to see whether your symptoms improve.
    Pt.: I would prefer double my alcohol intake for one month to see whether the symptoms get any worse!

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  • Anonymous | 23-Jul-2011 8:01 am

    'as so much money is being wasted on research,...'

    As a Research Nurse, I can assure you that research is vital and that, without it, we would not have the fantastic drugs and treatment regimes that have saved millions of lives worldwide and drastically improved the health of this country. Your life as a Nurse would be very different. Your patients would be much sicker and have a higher mortality rate.

    michael stone | 23-Jul-2011 10:23 am

    'And my gut instinct, is that the area of drug interactions, as well as the different ways that individuals react to particular drugs, is so complex that it probably is only superficially understood. Speaking not as a clinician, but as someone with a D.Phil in chemistry.'

    Drug interactions are actually very well understood. The decisions of some GPs and Hospital doctors can indeed, be lazy. Pharmacists are now becoming much more involved in prescription habits and advising GPs, and pointing out potential problems arising through polypharmacy.

    What has not been mentioned here is the personal responsibilty of the patient. We are all responsible for to a large extent for our own health. There are obvious exceptions in terms of some illnesses and diseases. However, just take a minute to think about how many of our patients wouldn't actually be patients if only their own life style had been different.

    Poverty, culture, employment, social status, etc. all have huge bearing on health.....as does personality and attitude to life. The evidence exists that those who are naturally more optimistic do better in most disease processes, than those who are not.

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  • Anonymous | 23-Jul-2011 12:31 pm

    I am a research nurse too but research does not just relate to pharmacology, and I am well aware of funding and wastage of public funds.

    If you read my comment it relates to research in general and also includes all the investigations sponsored by the government, many of which are out of date by the time they are printed, and investigations by bodies by the CQC which never seem to resolve the issues they are supposed to be investigating in a timely manner and some not at all.

    Doctors and nurses were at one time very well trained and informed about drugs and their interactions but at the rate drugs and their generics are now produced, and their complexity, there is hardly time to keep up to date any longer with more than those in most common use and new ones about to be prescribed due to with the pressures of work, cut backs in staff and poor funding.

    Further involvement of pharmacists is a welcome intervention as they are in a better position to have a thorough knowledge of drugs in use.

    I have also made many comments, and absolutely agree, that patients have the responsibility of questioning treatment before accepting it, but space and time for making these comments does not allow for the rewriting of a dissertation on all the issues involved every time and this article is more focused on mood of individuals rather than on any medication they are taking. My comment was just in response to what i considered a valid point about polypharma and we now seem to have got side tracked along that line.
    (maybe whilst on the subject of polypharma. and preventative measures mood enhancers could be thrown into the mix for those who fail to meet the required levels of optimism! but here perhaps I risk facetiousness!).

    I am not too familiar with wording on the leaflets in the packets of medication supplied to patients describing side effects, interactions and contraindications as I usually head straight for the most up to date drug compendium where it clearly stresses that some interactions and side effects only affect a very small number of the population. They can be extremely rare indeed and even if only one case has ever been reported they are required by law to reveal this but it can nevertheless be a serious cause for concern to patients and it is obviously important that those prescribing drugs are aware of these together with a thorough knowledge of the case history of their patient, which in modern medicine with so many changes of staff is not always the case. The patient, wherever possible, should also be made aware of the risks of any drug or other treatment before consenting to them.

    Hopefully this personal responsibility of knowledge and awareness in the public also leads to a drastic reduction in waste of NHS financial resources from patients accepting prescriptions and taking home medication which they decide for whatever reason not to take. Perhaps there are some sort of measures which could be found and applied to prevent the stockpiling prescriptions and especially medication which is costly and wasteful.

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  • Anonymous | 23-Jul-2011 1:36 pm

    I absolutely accept your point that research does not relate to just pharmaceuticals. I work within a major NHS research facility attached to an NHS Hospital, and am currently involved in 8 (out of the 60 or so we have running just now) ongoing studies, only 3 of which involve medication. 2 of them involve brief interventions using CBT approaches which look at how to begin the process of behaviour change. (to me, vitally important) None of them are a waste of money, and over the years I have seen real change as a result of the work we have done.


    'If you read my comment it relates to research in general and also includes all the investigations sponsored by the government, many of which are out of date by the time they are printed, and investigations by bodies by the CQC which never seem to resolve the issues they are supposed to be investigating in a timely manner and some not at all.'

    It was not clear to me from your previous comments that this was the point you were trying to make.

    Our government-sponsored studies and trials have been very much up to date and impactful. Many of those we are currently involved in have the potential to make enormous improvements in the way we do things; including reducing the amount of pharmacology used in some diseases. Perhaps we have been fortunate in the work that we have been approached to carry out. As someone with 30 years experience in many types of Nursing, this has been the most cost-efficient area I have ever worked in. A great deal of our research is actually funded by the major drug and medical device companies, not just the Chief Scientist's Office. Could we do better? Probably. However, the public are actually getting a very good deal. That's more than I can say for many areas of the NHS.

    Unfortunately, and you must have come up against this yourself, Research is often viewed by health professionals as an unaffordable luxury, which has no real purpose; when the absolute opposite is true. So when I see it derided, as I too often do, I will defend it.

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  • Anonymous | 23-Jul-2011 3:47 pm

    from Anonymous | 23-Jul-2011 1:36 pm

    It is good that you can defend your research and what you do sounds interesting and beneficial.

    No doubt there is much valuable research done and our civilization and society would not be where it is today without it. I still stand by my initial argument, however, that in general there is sadly also much wastage, especially at present when poor distribution of funding in the NHS and social services impinges on resources and the provision of the quality of care and other services.

    Unfortunately one has little time to read too many detailed research reports outside one's own field and thus relies on skimming the media where reports are brief and often misleading and some of the topics under study appear totally obvious or insignificant when taken out of context.

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