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Views on Old Age May Become Reality Later
Date:2/27/2009

What you think now could determine your health as you age, study shows

FRIDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that young people who assume life is rough for seniors are more likely to suffer from heart attacks and stroke when they reach that age themselves.

"If people hold more negative views of aging, they may be less likely to walk the extra block or engage in healthy behaviors as they get older," explained study author Becca Levy, an associate professor of epidemiology and psychology at Yale School of Public Health.

The findings don't confirm that negative assumptions about aging in young people directly cause them to develop cardiovascular problems later. But there's clearly a link, Levy said, and the association held up even when researchers adjusted their statistics to take into account the influence of other factors such as depression.

Levy and colleagues have been studying the stereotypes older people have about aging, trying to gauge how they affect their health. "This is our first study to look at younger adults and the age stereotypes they express, and follow them over time," said Levy.

The researchers looked at an aging study that tracked 386 people aged 18 to 49, beginning in 1968. Only 81 people in the group were women; 305 were men.

The participants took surveys that asked them if they believed various statements about the elderly, such as "old people are helpless."

The researchers then tried to find links between their responses and their likelihood of suffering from a heart attack, heart failure, angina, stroke or "mini-strokes" by 2007.

The findings were published in the March issue of Psychological Science.

After adjusting their figures to account for the influence of other factors, the researchers found that 25 percent of those who believed negative age "stereotypes" had experienced heart problems in the 30 years after a
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