Purpose in Life Reduces Stroke Risk

Previously, a number of studies suggest that having a purpose in life – the sense that life has meaning and direction – may reduce a number of adverse health effects. Lei Yu, from Rush University Medical Center (Illnois, USA), and colleagues studied autopsy results on 453 older adults, who participated in the Rush Memory and Aging Project. All of the participants underwent annual physical and psychological evaluations, including a standard assessment of purpose in life – where purpose in life was judged on a five-point scale (higher scores indicated a greater purpose), with the average score at 3.5. Participants were followed until they died, at an average age of 90 years.  At the study’s start, 114 subjects were affected by stroke.  At autopsy, 154 individuals had macroscopic infarctions (areas of stroke damage visible to the naked eye) and 128 had “microinfarcts” (areas of damage visible with a microscope).  The team observed that for every one-point increase in the score of purpose in life, the likelihood of having one or more macroscopic infarctions decreased by about 50%.  The study authors write that: “Purpose in life may affect risk for cerebral infarcts, specifically macroscopic lacunar infarcts.”

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