Stroke survivors with high levels of optimism may have lower inflammation levels, reduced stroke severity, and less physical disability after three months, according to a study.
Researchers from The University of Texas in the US, examined the relationship among optimism, inflammation, stroke severity, and physical disability for three months after a stroke, in a study of 49 stroke survivors.
Understanding how these elements relate to or impact one another may provide a scientific framework to develop new strategies for stroke recovery, they said.
“Our results suggest that optimistic people have a better disease outcome, thus boosting morale may be an ideal way to improve mental health, and recovery after a stroke,” said Yun-Ju Lai, a postdoctoral fellow at The University of Texas.
Post-stroke inflammation is detrimental to the brain and impairs recovery.
Optimism has been associated with lower inflammation levels and improved health outcomes among people with medical conditions, the researchers said.
However, no prior studies assessed if this association exists among stroke patients, they said.
This pilot study is a secondary analysis of data collected from a repository of neurological diseases.
As optimism levels increased, stroke severity and the inflammatory markers — interleukin-6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP) — decreased even after considering other possible variables.
However, this was not true of tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFa), another marker for inflammation.
“Patients and their families should know the importance of a positive environment that could benefit the patient. Mental health does affect recovery after a stroke,” Lai said
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