Think positive, Eeyore! Optimism may lower the risk of stroke. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. The study published in the journal Stroke, looked at 6,044 adults over the age of 50, and correlated their self-reported optimism with a decrease in acute stroke risk over a two-year period. For every point increase on a standard cognitive test for optimism (a 16-point scale), stroke risk decreased by 9 percent.

The researchers note that the protective effect of optimism may be due to behavioral choices, such as taking vitamins, eating a healthy diet and exercising, but some evidence suggests positive thinking might have a strictly biological impact as well. Previous research has shown that an optimistic attitude is associated with better heart health outcomes and enhanced immune-system functioning, among other positive effects.

After a stroke, keep a positive attitude as well. Promising early results have been seen using adult stem cells to treat stroke.