Dispositional Optimism Protects Older Adults From Stroke
The Health and Retirement Study
Background and Purpose—Although higher optimism has been linked to an array of positive health outcomes, the association between optimism and incidence of stroke remains unclear, especially among older adults. We examined whether higher optimism was associated with a lower incidence of stroke.
Method—Prospective data from the Health and Retirement Study—a nationally representative panel study of American adults aged >50 years—were used. Analyses were conducted for a 2-year follow-up on the subset of 6044 adults (2542 men, 3502 women) who were stroke-free at baseline. Analyses adjusted for chronic illnesses, self-rated health, and relevant sociodemographic, behavioral, biological, and psychological factors.
Results—Higher optimism was associated with a lower risk of stroke. On an optimism measure ranging from 3 to 18, each unit increase in optimism was associated with an age-adjusted OR of 0.90 for stroke (95% CI, 0.84 to 0.97; P<0.01). The effect of optimism remained significant even after fully adjusting for a comprehensive set of sociodemographic, behavioral, biological, and psychological stroke risk factors.
Conclusions—Optimism may play an important role in protecting against stroke among older adults.
- Received January 6, 2011.
- Revision received April 26, 2011.
- Accepted May 5, 2011.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.