Optimism Can Aid the Heart

There’s excellent news for folks who always look on the bright side of life. According to an analysis of 15 studies, people with an optimistic outlook are far less likely to die from heart problems than pessimists. The information came from looking at the data of about 230,000 people.

Not only were people less likely to die, but they were also less likely to experience strokes, heart attacks or chest pain. Pessimists had a heightened risk over neutral people. That news might make pessimists feel worse than they usually do. The find suggests that treating mood and training your outlook might have health benefits.

Links between optimism and other health aspects has been established. Studies have linked mindset to the immune system, lung function, dietary habits and more. After all, we’ve all heard, “Mind over matter,” as advise when we’re feeling down. But, the impact of a sunny outlook on the heart hadn’t been examined much.

The researchers wrote, “The cardiovascular and psychological benefits of optimism make it an attractive new arena for study within the field of behavioral cardiology.”

Using the data from other studies meant that the researchers weren’t just able to get information from a lot of people, the data was collected from Europe, Israel, the U.S. and Australia over 14 years. Optimists were 14 percent less likely to die from any cause, including heart disease, diabetes, dementia and cancer. They also had 35 percent fewer strokes.   

The researcher theorized that optimists might take better care of themselves with exercise, diet and healthy habits. Even if it does turn out to be that relationship of cause and effect, treating mental health and depression will help either way. Whether it’s merely the mental state itself that helps or our actions when we are mentally healthy — it will still have the same impact.

While research has identified many risk factors for diseases and premature death, we know relatively less about positive psychosocial factors that can promote healthy aging,” said Prof. Lewina Lee, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Boston Univ. School of Medicine. “This study has strong public health relevance because it suggests that optimism is one such psychosocial asset that has the potential to extend the human lifespan.”

Hopefully, more studies will flesh out this find and, as we gather more understanding, we’ll be able to put them to good use. If you are feeling down, anxious or depressed, speak to your doctor about your mental health and see if treatment may be right for you. It might just help your heart!
November 25, 2019

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