Study: Outlook on aging before old age connected with heart health

Younger individuals who hold negative stereotypes about aging are more likely to experience cardiovascular events when they get older, Becca R. Levy, Alan B. Zonderman, Martin D. Slade and Luigi Ferrucci write in a study published in the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

The researchers conducted a study involving 440 individuals 49 years of age or younger who responded to the age-stereotype predictor and who had not suffered from a cardiovascular event before the study. In 1968, all participants took a quiz determining their attitude toward aging. They were all monitored for cardiovascular events such as angina attacks, congestive heart failures, myocardial infarctions, strokes and transient ischemic attacks from 1986 to 2007.

The results indicate that people develop their attitude toward aging before they reach old age and that these beliefs can significantly impact health. “As predicted, among participants age 49 and under, those who held negative age stereotypes were significantly more likely to experience a cardiovascular event in the following 38 years than those with positive age stereotypes,” Levy, et. al write.

The association between negative age stereotypes and cardiovascular event risk is notable. “If an individual’s age stereotypes became more negative by one point, the risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event would increase by 11 percent,” Levy, et. al write.

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