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Hopeful Attitude Improves Stroke Survival (Reuters)...One recent study found that breast cancer patients who felt the most helpless and hopeless were...... have shown that stress can affect a section of the brain that in turn suppresses the immune system....- Jul 05 5:37 PM ET


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Website: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010705/hl/survival_1.html

Posted on: 07/05/2001

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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 report.

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 colleagues, conclude.

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 initial interview

SOURCE: Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association 2001;32.

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