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Feelings of hopelessness linked to women’s stroke risk

Women who experience feelings of hopelessness may have a greater risk for future heart disease and stroke, suggests a recent Medical School study. The researchers found that healthy middle-aged women who experience negative thinking and feelings of uselessness appear to experience thickening of the neck arteries, which can be a precursor to stroke.

Feelings of hopelessness affect arteries independent of clinical depression and before women develop clinically relevant cardiovascular disease, according to the study, which was published in the August 27 online edition of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

The study, which included 559 women (average age 50) who were generally healthy and did not show signs of clinical cardiovascular disease, found a consistent, progressive, and linear association between increasing neck artery thickness and rising levels of hopelessness.

It was the first study to link hopelessness with subclinical cardiovascular disease in women who are generally healthy, says the study’s principal investigator, Susan Everson-Rose, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor of medicine.

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