Hearts Are Healthier in Optimistic People


A recent study from the University of Illinois has revealed that optimistic people are much more likely to have healthy hearts. This clearly reveals that attitudes that people carry with them will affect their overall health.

Being positive about life and carrying that attitude through the day enabled people to have half the risk levels of having a cardiac event take place. Rosalba Hernandez, who works at the University of Illinois as a professor of social work, stated that some positive people would even be able to enjoy the “ideal cardiovascular health.”

In the study, researchers looked at 5,100 people and tried to identify associations between heart health and optimistic attitudes. All of the participants were between the ages of 52 and 84, and four universities took part in the study: Harvard, Northwestern, Chapman and Drexel. The results were published in the journal Health Behavior and Policy Review.

After the results were in, it was discovered that there is a very strong connection between having a positive attitude and having healthy hearts. This was even found to be true after other factors, such as various socio-demographics, and even poor levels of mental health, were considered.

When determining health of their hearts, the study looked at seven factors. These included body mass index, glucose levels, blood pressure, diet, serum cholesterol levels, use of tobacco, and the amount of physical activity. These seven factors are the same as those recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA).

In order to ensure that these results did not pertain just to one group, several ethnic groups were brought in to check the effects against cardiovascular disease as a comparison. The test group consisted of 38 percent whites, 28 percent were African-American, 22 percent were Hispanic, and 12 percent were Chinese.

Each of the participants rated themselves on surveys that asked about issues such as mental health, their physical health, how optimistic they were, and whether or not they had such illnesses as liver or kidney disease, and arthritis. They were also asked about the seven heart metrics.

The results showed that those people who were the most optimistic were also more likely to have hearts that were healthier than others. In fact, they were most likely to have 50 to 76 percent higher health scores that ranged between intermediate to ideal health.

Optimists also had overall better health. It was better in terms of better blood sugar control, overall cholesterol levels, and they were less likely to use tobacco products. Because they were also were more likely to be active physically, they also had better body mass index.

When put in practical terms, Hernandez pointed out that a moderate increase in cardiovascular health means a sizable reduction in death rates. By applying a modification of an individual’s psychological well-being, it could be a way for the AHA to reach its goal of boosting the cardiovascular health of Americans by as much as 20 percent by the year 2020.

The study showed that people who are more pessimistic are going to have a greater risk of having a stroke or heart attack. Getting rid of a negative attitude will help to have better overall health because optimistic people are more likely to enjoy healthier hearts.

By Mike Valles


Photo by Sarah Reid – Flickr License

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