Attitude is everything, if you want a long and healthy life.  New research by the American Heart Association finds that cynicism, hostile thoughts, life-stress and depression can lead to stroke.

Triggers generally associated with stroke are physical – high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking, but medical science is finding that there are psychological triggers as well.

Dr. Jacqueline Phillips-Sabol is a neuropsychologist with the UT Health Science Center at Houston, and says those emotions can trigger stress neurotransmitters.

“Those neurotransmitters have an effect on cardiac function, like they raise blood pressure, and put the body into a stress-mode and also into a fight or flight mode,” says Dr. Phillips-Sabol. 

In a recent study of more than 6,000 subjects, participants followed for up to eleven years reported their chronic stress, depressive symptoms, anger and hostility. 

Researchers found people who rated high with hostility, a cynical view of other people’s motives, were twice as likely to have a stroke as those who scored low in that area.

“I think it’s very important to have social outlets with people who can help to balance out these things so that your life is not totally focused on stress or cynicism or depression or things like that,” Dr. Phillips-Sabol tells KTRH News.

She says our American lifestyle is often stress-inducing, and we need to be consciously aware of when we are feeling stressed and look for healthy outlets.