A positive outlook halves the risk of heart problems – study

Smiling Man Leaning Against Wall Giving Thumbs UpILLINOIS, United States, Thursday January 22, 2015 – People who think positive and maintain an optimistic outlook on life are twice as likely to have healthier hearts and circulation than their more negative counterparts, according to a new study.

Researchers also claimed that compared to pessimists, they took better care of themselves, had significantly better blood sugar, healthier cholesterol readings, were more physically active, less inclined to smoke and more likely to have a healthier body mass index.

Overall, boosting people’s mental wellbeing could help tackle poor health, researchers from the University of Illinois suggested.

According to Rosalba Hernandez, professor of social work at the university: “Individuals with the highest levels of optimism have twice the odds of being in ideal cardiovascular health compared to their more pessimistic counterparts.

“This association remains significant, even after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and poor mental health,” she added.

The study was the first to examine associations between optimism and heart health in more than 5,000 adults in the United States.

The volunteers’ heart health was measured and scored as Poor, Intermediate and Ideal.

The scoring was based on their blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar readings, body mass index, diet, physical activity and whether they used tobacco.

They were also asked about their outlook on life, as well as their physical health, with researchers asking if they suffered from arthritis, liver and kidney disease.

The results demonstrated that people who were the most optimistic were 50 percent more likely to have total health scores in the Intermediate range and 76 percent more likely to have total health scores in the Ideal range.

The findings showed that the association between optimism and cardiovascular health was even stronger when socio-demographic characteristics such as age, race and ethnicity, education and income were factored in.

“At the population level, even this moderate difference in cardiovascular health translates into a significant reduction in death rates,” Professor Hernandez said.

The study, which was published in the journal Health Behaviour and Policy Review, backs up previous findings about the health benefits of being an optimist.

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