Optimistic outlook found good for heart health
Those with a positive outlook tend to not suffer from heart attacks, strokes
Doctor's orders: get your chin off your chest and have a good attitude
towards life. A team at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston
examined 200 separate research studies that examined psychological
well-being and cardiovascular health. Their conclusion? People with a
sunny disposition and positive outlook on life are less likely to have
heart attacks and strokes.
It's already a given that stress and depression increase the chances of being unwell. It was generally less was known about how positive emotions affect health.
"The absence of the negative is not the same thing as the presence of the positive. We found that factors such as optimism, life satisfaction, and happiness are associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease regardless of such factors as a person's age, socioeconomic status, smoking status, or body weight," lead author Julia Boehm, research fellow in the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health says.
"For example, the most optimistic individuals had an approximately 50 percent reduced risk of experiencing an initial cardiovascular event compared to their less optimistic peers."
Each of the 200 research papers studied differing emotional states using questionnaires and assessments to score patients in the study.
They measured the extent to which individuals consider themselves a happy or unhappy person, satisfaction with their life and the extent to which they experience pleasurable feelings.
Always examined was optimism and hope in individual patients, and the extent to which individuals have expectancies for positive outcomes in the future.
Senior author Laura Kubzansky, associate professor of society, human development, and health at Harvard, said there are psychological assets, like optimism and positive emotion, which afford protection against cardiovascular disease. Such factors protect people against heart attacks and strokes and also slowed the progression of heart disease and other diseases in patients who had already developed them.
The research showed that people with a positive outlook on life and who were optimistic about the future tended to lead healthier lives overall.
People with upbeat attitudes were more likely to exercise, eat a good balanced die, and get enough sleep. Yet even when these factors were accounted for, the happier people were still less likely to develop cardiovascular disease.
It's generally believed that a positive attitude to life makes people more resilient to stress and helps them recover more quickly after things like preparing for a speech, the researchers said.
"The association between heart disease and mental health is very complex and still not fully understood," Maureen Talbot, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation says.
"Although this study didn't look at the effects of stress, it does confirm what we already know which is that psychological wellbeing is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, just like staying active and eating healthily.
"It also highlights the need for healthcare professionals to provide a holistic approach to care, taking into account the state of someone's mental health and monitoring its effect on their physical health," she added.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: OPtimism, good health, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, holistic approach
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