Optimism reduces stroke severity, inflammation
- Optimistic stroke survivors had lower inflammation levels, reduced stroke severity and less initial physical disability after three months compared to less optimistic survivors, according to the findings of a small study.
- Previous studies have associated optimism with improved health outcomes for other medical conditions, however, no studies previously assessed if this association exists among stroke patient.
Embargoed until 4 a.m. CT/5 a.m. ET Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020
DALLAS, Feb. 12, 2020 — Stroke survivors with high levels of optimism had lower inflammation levels, reduced stroke severity and less physical disability after three months, compared to those who are less optimistic, according to preliminary research presented at the Nursing Symposium of the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2020 – Feb. 18-21 in Los Angeles. The conference is a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health.
In a small study of 49 stroke survivors, researchers examined the relationship among optimism, inflammation, stroke severity and physical disability for three months after a stroke. Researchers said that understanding how these elements relate to or impact one another may provide a scientific framework to develop new strategies for stroke recovery.
“Our results suggest that optimistic people have a better disease outcome, thus boosting morale may be an ideal way to improve mental health and recovery after a stroke,” said Yun-Ju Lai, Ph.D., M.S., R.N., the study’s first author and a postdoctoral fellow in the neurology department at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
Post-stroke inflammation is detrimental to the brain and impairs recovery. Optimism has been associated with lower inflammation levels and improved health outcomes among people with medical conditions, however, no prior studies assessed if this association exists among stroke patients.
This pilot study is a secondary analysis of data collected from a repository of neurological diseases. Outcomes included optimism levels from the revised Life Orientation Test, a standard psychological tool for measuring optimism; stroke severity evaluation through the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale, and levels of inflammatory markers—interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) and C-reactive protein (CRP).
As optimism levels increased, stroke severity and the inflammatory markers IL-6 and CRP decreased even after considering other possible variables. However, this was not true of TNFα.
“Patients and their families should know the importance of a positive environment that could benefit the patient,” Lai said. “Mental health does affect recovery after a stroke.”
The list of study authors and disclosures are available in the abstract. The study was funded by NIH/NINDS and the American Heart Association.
- Video interview: AHA/ASA past president, Ralph L. Sacco, M.D., M.S., FAHA, offers perspective (via Skype) and researcher photo may be downloaded from the right column of the release link (click through thumbnails to select). https://newsroom.heart.org/news/optimism-reduces-stroke-severity-inflammation?preview=278409c58953cc4b3bd80e609533b04b
- Emotional & Behavioral Effects of Stroke
- Being more optimistic linked to better cardiovascular health among Hispanics/Latinos
- For more news at ASA International Stroke Conference 2020, follow us on Twitter @HeartNews #ISC20.
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The American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference (ISC) is the world’s premier meeting dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health. ISC 2020 will be held February 19-21 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in California. The 2 ½-day conference features more than 1,600 compelling scientific presentations in 21 categories that emphasize basic, clinical and translational science for health care professionals and researchers. These science and other clinical presentations will provide attendees with a better understanding of stroke and brain health to help improve prevention, treatment and outcomes for the more than 800,000 Americans who have a stroke each year. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the U.S. Worldwide, cerebrovascular accidents (stroke) are the second leading cause of death and the third leading cause of disability, according to the World Health Organization. Engage in the International Stroke Conference on social media via #ISC20.
About the American Stroke Association
The American Stroke Association is a relentless force for a world with fewer strokes and longer, healthier lives. We team with millions of volunteers and donors to ensure equitable health and stroke care in all communities. We work to prevent, treat and beat stroke by funding innovative research, fighting for the public’s health, and providing lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based association was created in 1998 as a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-888-4STROKE or visit strokeassociation.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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