Optimism linked to a healthy heart, says study

22 July 2011

Scientists from the University of Michigan have strengthened the link associated with good heart health and optimism, saying a positive outlook could minimise a patient's risk of heart problems.

Previous research has shown that optimism can help with the immune system and a generally healthy heart, but this study is the first to discover a correlation between the two.

The research, reported in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, used a 16-point scale to gauge levels of optimism in 6,044 adults over 50. It found that for every one point increase there was a nine per cent decrease in acute stroke risk over a two-year observational period.

Eric Kim, lead author of the study and clinical psychology doctoral student at Michigan, said: "Our work suggests that people who expect the best things in life actively take steps to promote health."

"Optimism seems to have a swift impact on stroke," he added.

In the UK there are over 191,000 mortalities each year from cardiovascular diseases, accounting for almost one in three deaths. Strokes account for more than 49,000 of those fatalities.

Posted by Philip Briggs.

1 Kim, Eric S. et al. "Dispositional Optimism Protects Older Adults From Stroke:
The Health and Retirement Study". Stoke: Journal of the American Heart Association. Thursday July 21st 2011.

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