Saturday, April 21, 2012

Optimism reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases: Harvard study

Happier folks with more optimistic view of life are less likely to experience heart diseases or strokes compared to those with negative worldviews.

A Harvard School of Public Health review of more than 200 studies found a significant association between positive psychological characteristics-- such as optimism, life satisfaction and happiness-- and cardiovascular health.

While many prior findings disclosed ties between stress, anxiety and anger with health problems such as heart disease, the new study has provided a better understanding of positive mental status and 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 CVD (cardiovascular disease) regardless of such factors as a person's age, socioeconomic status, smoking status, or body weight,” said senior researcher Julia Boehm.

“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,” added Boehm, whose study was published in Psychological Bulletin.

The study says people with a sense of well-being are more engaged in healthier behaviors such as exercising, eating a balanced diet and getting sufficient sleep.

Furthermore, greater well-being is associated with better biological function, such as a lower risks of obesity, high blood pressure and LDL or bad cholesterol level.

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