Having Purpose in Life May Affect Stroke Risk and Dementia Development

iStock_000009976075XSmall-300x225.jpgThere's a new study from the American Heart Association (AHA) which suggests that psychological factors may play a role in stroke and dementia development.

The AHA's medical journal, Stroke, regularly includes valuable information that helps doctors better manage the care of older individuals. The study in question, entitled "Purpose in Life and Cerebral Infarct in Community-Dwelling Older People​," is in the April issue of the journal.

About this study

"Purpose in life, the sense that life has meaning and direction, is associated with reduced risks of adverse health outcomes," states the article. "However, it remains unknown whether purpose in life protects against the risk of cerebral infarcts among community-dwelling older people. We tested the hypothesis that greater purpose in life is associated with lower risk of cerebral infarcts."

The scientists looked at 453 people who had an average age of 84 years. All of these people were participants in a project called the Rush Memory and Aging Project. As participants in this study, they had annual physical and​ psychological testing. None of the participants had been diagnosed with dementia when they entered the project.  They stayed with the project until their deaths, which was at an average age of 90 years.

When researchers looked at the results of the study, they discovered that 114 of the 453 participants had suffered from stroke; that 154 had experienced macroscopic infarcts and 128 has experienced microscopic infarcts. Macroscopic infarcts are those which are large enough that they can be observed by the naked eye.

The doctors also found a correlation between having a positive purpose in life and the risk of macroscopic infarcts. Those who rated themselves as having a positive purpose were 44% less likely to develop those infarcts. This finding takes into consideration many related factors, such as blood pressure and diabetes.

Preventing infarcts is considered desirable because the damaged brain tissue that results can contribute to significant issues such as dementia and mobility problems.

In real life

What does this mean in a "real life" setting? Basically, maintaining or improving a sense of a purpose in life among seniors can impact their health in areas such as dementia development. Finding things that make seniors feel purposeful, such as doing volunteer work, staying active in a community, or continuing to learn as they age, can have an impact.

Related Article
All You Want to Know about a Stroke- centraldallas.myhomecareblog.com ​


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