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Positive attitude linked to lower blood pressure after stroke

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HealthDay News

Believing that you won't have a second stroke may help you control your blood pressure, a new study suggests.

A positive attitude about your health can go a long way in maintaining cardiovascular health, especially for women, researchers say.

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"Targeted strategies to improve health beliefs after stroke may be an important component to include in risk-factor management among stroke survivors," said researcher Emily Goldmann. She's a clinical assistant professor of epidemiology at NYU School of Global Public Health in New York City.

Keeping blood pressure in line is a critical stroke-prevention strategy.

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For the study, researchers collected data on 522 stroke patients from four New York City hospitals who were part of a stroke-prevention study.

Before leaving the hospital, patients were asked if they agreed with the statement: "I can protect myself against having a stroke." More than 75 percent of the patients said they did.

"This perception that you can protect yourself from another stroke reflects the construct of self-efficacy, or a belief in one's ability to achieve a specific outcome," Goldmann said in an NYU news release.

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In the year after discharge from the hospital, those who took that belief to heart had a reduction in blood pressure of nearly 6 mm Hg. The blood pressure of those who didn't believe they could prevent another stroke didn't go down, the researchers found.

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Further analysis showed that women who had positive health beliefs were more likely to have lowered their blood pressure than men. Women who didn't believe in the effect of a positive attitude saw an increase in their blood pressure.

"In this study, we found an association between self-efficacy and reduced blood pressure, which is consistent with previous studies linking positive psychological states to better health outcomes in the context of cardiovascular disease and stroke," Goldmann said.

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The report was recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

More information

Johns Hopkins University has more on the link between a positive attitude and health.

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