Is a sunny outlook better for your heart?
A rosy outlook on life and the world may not just benefit your mental health, it may also have a positive effect on the health of your heart.
According to a study from the University of Illinois, people with a more optimistic outlook may have significantly better cardiovascular health than their more pessimistic counterparts.
“Individuals with the highest levels of optimism have twice the odds of being in ideal cardiovascular health compared to their more pessimistic counterparts,” lead study author Rosalba Hernandez said in a news release. “This association remains significant, even after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and poor mental health.”
The researchers assessed the mental and physical metrics of more than 5,100 study participants whose ages ranged from 45 to 84.
Cardiovascular health was measured using the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 guidelines:
- Blood pressure
- Body mass index
- Blood sugar levels
- Dietary intake
- Physical activity
- Tobacco use
Participants also completed surveys that assessed their mental health and levels of optimism. According to the results, the individuals’ total health scores rose as their levels of optimism increased. Those who reported being the most optimistic were 50 and 76 percent more likely to have the best total heart health scores.
“Honestly, this isn’t that surprising,” says Dr. Ajay Baddi, Advocate Heart Institute cardiologist at Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “People with a more optimistic outlook are more engaged in their health, so they naturally have better cardiovascular health.”
He says previous studies have linked optimism to a reduced risk of heart disease.
“Optimistic people are typically more active,” Dr. Baddi says. “They exercise more and have better control of their weight. The stigma of obesity can lead to pessimism and inactivity, which can lead to poor heart health.”
Dr. Baddi says more study is necessary to tackle this complicated issue, but agrees that good cardiovascular health is best confronted with both body and mind.
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