Public Release: 

Stroke survivors' beliefs seem to reduce blood pressure

American Stroke Association News Brief - Poster WP521, Session P16

American Heart Association

DALLAS, Jan. 30, 2019 -- Stroke survivors who believe they can protect themselves from having another stroke had more than twice the blood pressure reduction of nonbelievers, according to preliminary research to be presented in Honolulu at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2019, a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science and treatment of cerebrovascular disease.

High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for stroke and stroke recurrence. Studies have shown that patients' health attitudes and beliefs play a big role in how they take care of themselves.

To determine whether specific beliefs have the power to lower blood pressure after a stroke, researchers studied a multi-ethnic group of 434 adults (average age 64, 50 percent women, and roughly one third white, black or Hispanic) who survived mild or moderate strokes or transient ischemic attack, also known as TIA or mini stroke. Patients agreed or disagreed with statements like: "I worry about having a stroke," "I can protect myself against having a stroke" and "Some people are more likely to have stroke than others."

Researchers found nearly 78 percent of the adults agreed that they could protect themselves from another stroke. Adults who agreed with that statement, alone, had an average 6.44 mm Hg greater reduction in systolic (the top number) blood pressure a year after their initial strokes, compared with adults who didn't feel empowered.

"Certain health beliefs, such as those related to patient empowerment, may play an important role in secondary stroke prevention," researchers said.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke funded the study.

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Bernadette Boden Albala, M.P.H., Dr. P.H., Professor of Public Health, Neurology and Dentistry, New York UniversityBernadette Boden Albala, M.P.H., Dr. P.H., Professor of Public Health, Neurology and Dentistry, New York University

Note: Scientific presentation is 6:30 p.m. HT/11:30 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019.

Additional Resources:

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Statements and conclusions of study authors that are presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect association policy or position. The association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at https://www.heart.org/en/about-us/aha-financial-information.

About the American Stroke Association

The American Stroke Association is devoted to saving people from stroke -- the No. 2 cause of death in the world and a leading cause of serious disability. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat stroke. The Dallas-based association officially launched in 1998 as a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-888-4STROKE or visit StrokeAssociation.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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