Finding Purpose and Staying Healthy

Mental health has a powerful effect on one’s health, and can actually decrease your risk of stroke. Adults struggling with severe anxiety and depression have a 30% increased risk of heart attack and a 44% increased risk of stroke. Post-stroke depression also increases the mortality rate of stroke victims. This is true even for younger post-stroke patients and those with fewer chronic conditions than those without depression. 

Clearly, staying mentally healthy both before and after a stroke is critical, decreasing your risk of stroke and improving health outcomes post-stroke. How can you maintain your mental health? One of the most important factors is to have a sense of meaning in your life.

Having a purpose affects your health

One of the strongest studies to demonstrate a link between physical and mental health and a sense of meaning or purpose in life was published in JAMA Network Open titled “Association Between Life Purpose and Mortality Among US Adults Older Than 50 Years.” 

This study followed 7,000 Americans from 2006-2010 with a mean age of 68.6. They compared mortality rates to the subjects’ own sense of life purpose, defined as a “self-organizing life aim that stimulates goals” and rated on a scale of 1-6 (6 being high sense of purpose). The results showed that the lower the person’s life purpose score, the lower the person’s survival probability.

Researchers found that those with very low or no sense of purpose had a 2.4 times greater risk of dying than those with a very high sense of purpose (score of 6). Those with a lower sense of purpose also had higher rates of heart disease and stroke, digestive disease, and cancer. 

How to find purpose

Having a purpose means having a reason for living and seeing the bigger picture. For many people, religious faith provides that sense of meaning and purpose. Having family or loved ones to live for who depend on you is a powerful force for motivation and life meaning. Other people find volunteerism to help them have a purpose. 

Setting goals that you wish to accomplish is another way to find a purpose or a “self-organizing life aim.” If you have a strong desire to travel to every continent, climb a high mountain, sail the globe, or become fluent in Japanese and live in Japan for 6 months, you have an aim in life that can help you avoid depression and anxiety and help you maintain physical and mental health. 

We at Neuralert Technologies have a very clear purpose – we are committed to ending the devastation caused by strokes. To that aim, we have developed our innovative stroke detection monitor, combining a unique, non-invasive wristband technology with a state-of-the-art patented algorithm developed by the University of Pennsylvania to detect asymmetry in arm movement, one of the initial indications of stroke onset. 

Neuralert is proven to detect 65% of strokes within 30 minutes and 94% of strokes within 80 minutes, thus hastening medical care that can limit or prevent long-term damage from the stroke. If you’re at a high risk of stroke, ask your doctor about adding Neuralert wristbands to your health plan.