Are you always positive? Do you expect good things to happen in the future despite facing challenges? If so, you have another reason to be happy because research reveals that persons that have a positive view of things enjoy better heart health, lower rates of heart diseases and are more likely to remain alive decades after a heart attack. Consider how optimism affect your heart health.
How does optimism affect a persons chances of survival after a heart attack? This was the focus of a new study published in Mayo Clinic proceedings. In this 2016 study, researchers followed up 664 people who had their first heart attack from 1993 to 2015 (a whole 22years!). The authors wanted to see who would still be alive and if some factors could explain their survival. The finding? Having a high level of optimism was associated with better chances of survival following a heart attack. In fact, the authors went on to recommend ‘optimism training’ for those that are naturally pessimistic.
This is not the first time optimism has been linked to better heart health. Previous studies suggest that having a positive outlook may prevent high blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels and help you engage more physical activities that improve overall health. This was reported in 2015 study of 5100 adults that were assessed for relevant heart variables such as blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol levels. The authors concluded that participants that were highly optimistic were more likely to have good heart health than those that were pessimistic. According to the lead author, Rosalba Hernandez, a professor of social works at University of Illinois, ‘’This association remains significant, even after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and poor mental health.’
Furthermore, Havard researchers reviewed more than 200 studies examining the relationship between risk of heart diseases and emotional well-being in 2012. The outcome? The Authors reported that optimism was linked with lower risk of heart problems.
So, what can help you develop the power of positive thinking?
Consider the following suggestions:
- Always focus on positive things. To help you focus on good things, write down three good things that happen to you daily
- Whenever you find yourself thinking of something negative, stop
- No matter how bad you feel about your work, try to look for an aspect that is satisfying
- In choosing friends, actively look for those that have a positive outlook of life
- Are you faced with a challenging situation? Do not delay in dealing with it
Do you see the bright side of life, always anticipating the best? Or are you inclined to be pessimistic, taking a negative view of your prospects, hoping for the best but at the same time expecting the worst? Your view of the future may well have an impact on your heart.
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Netanela Weiss-Faratci et al (2016) Optimism during hospitalization for first acute myocardial infarction and long-term mortality risk. Mayo Clinic proceedings . DOI: http//dx.doi.org/10/1016/j.mayocp.2016.09.014.
Hernandez et al. (2015) Optimisim and Cardiovascular Health: Multi-Ethnis study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Health Behaviour and Policy Review, 2.1 62-73.