Think happy thoughts: views on aging tied to poor health later in life

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Younger people who believe negative stereotypes about aging are more prone to suffer poor health when they themselves reach old age, new research suggests.

Researchers asked a cohort of youngsters aged 18 to 49 for their views on aging for the multi-decade study, which was conducted through the Yale School of Public Health. After the first round of questions, which were asked in 1968, participants were followed to see if there was any correlation between their outlook on life and their eventual health conditions. After correcting for a number of variables, researchers found that 25% of those who held negative views on aging suffered a heart attack, heart failure, angina or stroke by 2007. By comparison, only 13% of those who viewed aging positively experienced a similarly adverse health condition.

Researchers say the study doesn't prove that negative thoughts lead to cardiovascular conditions, but they say there is a definite link. One reason could be genetic, they suggest. A family history of poor health in old age could simultaneously contribute to a future condition and cast the aging process in an unfavorable light for some people, researchers suggest. Their study appears in the March issue of Psychological Science.
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