Thursday July 5 5:37 PM ET
"Hopeful Attitude Improves Stroke Survival"
Hopeful Attitude Improves Stroke Survival
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Stroke victims who feel
pessimistic or hopeless about their recovery may in fact die
sooner than their more optimistic counterparts, researchers
According to a study of 372 patients, those who felt the
most fatalistic were 79% more likely to die over 5 years than
those who were more positive, regardless of the severity of
stroke, age and the presence of other diseases.
Similarly, patients who had survived a stroke but said they
still felt helpless were 58% more likely to die compared with
those with more hopeful attitudes, report researches in the
July issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart
Association (news - web sites).
"Patients' attitudes toward their illness seem to be
associated with survival after stroke," Dr. S. C. Lewis of
Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland, and
The findings support a growing body of research into the
link between attitude and health. One recent study found that
breast cancer patients who felt the most helpless and hopeless
were more likely to die within 5 years. Other research has
linked optimism with a longer life in general and with a slower
progression of symptoms among men who are HIV (news - web sites)-positive.
However, it is still unclear how attitude affects health.
Animal studies have shown that stress can affect a section of
the brain that in turn suppresses the immune system.
"A causal relationship is biologically plausible, although
mechanisms remain speculative," the researchers write.
Furthermore, there is no evidence at this point that a
patient's attitude toward stroke can be improved.
In the current study, a researcher visited patients 6
months after their stroke and asked them questions to gauge
their attitudes, level of disability and mood. Patients were
followed for 3 to 5 years after their initial stroke.
A patient's general mood, level of anxiety, depression or
"fighting spirit" did not significantly influence survival.
About one fifth of patients had died within 3 years of the
SOURCE: Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association
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