Originally published February 1 2015
Keeping a positive outlook on life can help you avoid heart disease
by Jonathan Benson, staff writer
(NaturalNews) How you view the world directly affects how long you live in it, according to a new study published in the journal Health Behavior and Policy Review. A cohort of researchers from colleges across the U.S. found that optimistic people are twice as likely to remain in optimal cardiovascular health as those with negative perceptions of reality.
A comparative analysis of more than 5,000 adults that took place over the course of 11 years revealed a positive correlation between cardiovascular disease and pessimism. The research subjects, all between 45 and 84 years of age, were asked to complete surveys evaluating their self-reported levels of optimism and general states of mental health.
After taking into account respective blood pressure levels, body mass indexes, dietary intakes, physical activity, tobacco use, cholesterol levels and blood glucose levels, researchers found that those who scored the highest self-reported levels of optimism were twice as likely to have strong cardiovascular health as those who scored lower.
The optimists were also found to have better blood sugar and cholesterol profiles compared to the pessimists. In general, optimism was found to be generally indicative of better physical activity habits, healthier body mass indexes and lower rates of smoking. Having a positive outlook on life, in other words, typically means you have a better chance of living a longer and better life.
"Individuals with the highest levels of optimism have twice the odds of being in ideal cardiovascular health compared to their more pessimistic counterparts," stated Rosalba Hernandez, lead author of the study and professor of social work at the University of Illinois. "This association remains significant, even after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and poor mental health."
Harvard University researchers came to similar conclusions back in 2012 when they published a study on the association between psychological well-being and cardiovascular health in the journal Psychological Bulletin. After poring through more than 200 studies comparing cardiovascular risks and emotional states, researchers found that being hopeful and happy can go a long way in reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
One of these studies observed a lower risk of heart disease in folks who reported being happy in their families, careers, sex lives and other relationships. Having constant depression or anxiety, on the other hand, was shown to be associated with higher disease risk and lowered rates of survival among those who are already ill.
"Findings suggest that PPWB [positive psychological well-being] protects consistently against CVD [cardiovascular disease], independently of traditional risk factors and ill-being," wrote the Harvard research team. "In general, PPWB is also positively associated with restorative health behaviors and biological function and inversely associated with deteriorative health behaviors and biological function."
An unrelated study published one year earlier in the European Heart Journal found that stress and depression are both associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Nearly 8,000 participants were analyzed for CHD in association with four primary "life domains" -- one's job, family, sex life and self. Based on this, satisfaction in most of these was associated with a reduced CHD risk.
"These findings suggest that satisfaction with life may promote heart health," the authors wrote.
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