Home » NEWS » Health » Happy? Positive outlook may be good for your heart

Happy? Positive outlook may be good for your heart

Oblique View of Human Heart-Exterior ... Medical Illustrations by Patrick Lynch, generated for multimedia teaching projects by the Yale University School of Medicine, Center for Advanced Instructional Media,

WASHINGTON — Be happy — it seems to be good for your heart.

Scientists have long known that Type A personalities and people who are chronically angry, anxious or depressed have a higher risk of heart attacks.

Now a Harvard review of the flip side of that psychology concludes that being upbeat and optimistic just may help protect against heart disease

Rather than focusing only on how to lessen heart risks, “it might also be useful to focus on how we might bolster the positive side of things,” said lead researcher Julia Boehm of the Harvard School of Public Health.

Boehm reviewed dozens of studies examining a positive outlook — as determined by various psychological measurements — on heart health. Optimism in particular seems key, as a number of studies found the most optimistic people had half the risk of a first heart attack when compared to the least optimistic, Boehm said.

Why? Previous work shows the stress associated with negative psychological traits can lead to damage of arteries and the heart itself.

Boehm found that people with a better sense of well-being tend to have healthier blood pressure, cholesterol and weight, and are more likely to exercise, eat healthier, get enough sleep and avoid smoking. But she cautioned that it will take more research to tease apart if a positive outlook makes people feel more like taking heart-healthy steps — or whether living healthier helps you feel more positive.

The review, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was published Tuesday by the Psychological Bulletin

More research is needed but that link between psychological and physical well-being makes sense, said Dr. Elizabeth Jackson of the University of Michigan and American College of Cardiology, who wasn’t involved with the review. Among her own heart patients, she has noticed that those who feel they have some control over their lives and are invested in their care have better outcomes.

What if you’re by nature a pessimist? “That’s a hard question. There’s no magic happy pill,” Jackson said.

Some research has found that asking people to smile helps put them in a better mood, Boehm noted, although long-term effects aren’t clear.

“Sometimes it’s hard, particularly in tough economic times, but taking a moment to just relax and enjoy a sunny day might be good heart health,” Jackson said.

BEFORE YOU GO…

… we’d like to ask for your support. More people are reading the Mississippi Business Journal than ever before, but advertising revenues for all conventional media are falling fast. Unlike many, we do not use a pay wall, because we want to continue providing Mississippi’s most comprehensive business news each and every day. But that takes time, money and hard work. We do it because it is important to us … and equally important to you, if you value the flow of trustworthy news and information which have always kept America strong and free for more than 200 years.

If those who read our content will help fund it, we can continue to bring you the very best in news and information. Please consider joining us as a valued member, or if you prefer, make a one-time contribution.

Click for more info

About Megan Wright

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*