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Hopeless feelings up women’s stroke risk

CHICAGO: For women, feelings of hopelessness are not just unfortunate, they are also a stroke risk, United States researchers said last Thursday.

They said otherwisehealthy women who are chronically hopeless are more likely to have a build-up of plaque in their neck arteries that can trigger a stroke.

“These findings suggest that women who experience feelings of hopelessness may have greater risk for future heart disease and stroke,” said Dr Susan Everson-Rose of the University of Minnesota Medical School, whose study appears in the journal Stroke.

Many studies have linked depression with heart disease, and recent studies have suggested that optimism may protect women from heart disease.

Dr Everson-Rose’s study is the first to show that hopelessness may directly affect a healthy woman’s risk for stroke.

The researchers looked at 559 women with an average age of 50 who had no clinical signs of heart disease, such as elevated blood pressure.

To measure hopelessness, they asked questions about the future and
personal goals. They also measured symptoms of depression using a 20-item assessment scale.

And they took ultrasound images of the women to measure the thickness of their neck arteries.

The difference was measurable.

Women who scored high on the hopelessness scale had neck arteries that were 0.02mm thicker than their more hopeful counterparts.

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