Monday, 27 April 2009

Ageist youths more likely to have heart probs in old age

An extraordinary longitudinal study has identified a link between people's belief in age stereotypes when they're younger and their likelihood of suffering a cardiovascular illness when they get older. Becca Levy and colleagues used data collected from 1968 onwards from 386 people regarding their belief in age stereotypes. The participants, who were aged 36.5 years on average when first approached, had stated their agreement with views like "old people are helpless". Levy's team then looked to see which participants had suffered a cardiovascular illness such as heart attack or stroke between 1968 and 2007. There were 89 such cardiovascular events in total. Amazingly, participants who earlier held negative views about older people were subsequently more likely to suffer a cardiovascular illness over the next 38 years, than were the participants who had held more positive views about ageing. For example, 30 years after the questions about ageing, 25 per cent of those who'd espoused negative views had suffered an illness compared with just 13 per cent of those who'd held positive views. Crucially, this association held even after controlling for a raft of other factors that might have explained the link, including health at baseline, family medical history and body mass index at baseline. "This finding suggests that programmes aimed at reducing the negative age stereotypes of younger individuals could benefit their cardiovascular health when they become older individuals," the researchers said. In the Rainbow Years we quote the research that shows that a positive attitude towards ageing can add 7.5 years to your life. This research says that these attitudes begin early so get working on the younger members of your family.

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