If your metaphorical glass is always half-full, then you may have a decreased risk of stroke, according to new research.
University of Michigan researchers recently studied more than 6,000 people over the age of 50 for two years, using a scale they developed. They found that for each point increase on the optimism scale, a person's risk for stroke went down 9%.
They concluded that optimism appears to have an influence on a person's stroke risk, but aren't sure why. They speculated that optimistic people tend to take better care of themselves and are more likely to engage in behaviors that would lower their stroke risk. The study was published in the online issue of Stroke, a journal of the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association.
The link between optimism and stroke risk may also have something to do with cell biology. University of California San Francisco researchers recently discovered a link between optimism and telomeres, important DNA components that aid in the cell replication process. Their study of postmenopausal women over the age of 50 showed that those who were more pessimistic had shorter telomeres, according to a Psychology Today blog.
This finding is significant in light of a separate study, conducted by researchers from the University of Berlin, which found that people with shorter telomeres had a greater risk of suffering from vascular dementia, a common type of stroke.
Since optimism is an attitude that we can control, experts hope that these types of research studies will help create more effective stroke-prevention strategies.