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Taking age stereotypes to heart

People who hold negative attitudes toward the elderly face an increased risk of heart-related ailments later in life

1:50pm, February 23, 2009

Heart-felt perils await people who hold disapproving attitudes about the elderly, a new study suggests.

Young and middle-aged adults who endorse negative stereotypes about older people display high rates of strokes, heart attacks and other serious heart problems later in life, compared with aging peers who view the elderly in generally positive ways, say Yale University psychologist Becca Levy and her colleagues.

“We found that age stereotypes, which tend to be acquired in childhood or young adulthood and carried over into old age, seem to have far-reaching effects on cardiovascular health,” Levy says.

Her team describes evidence for a connection between attitudes toward aging and eventual heart health in a paper published online February 13 and set to appear in Psychological Science. Reasons for this association remain unclear. In earlier studies, Levy found that elderly volunteers who reported negative stereotypes about old people were

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