Optimism is good for your heart, suggests a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois.
"Individuals with the highest levels of optimism have twice the odds of being in ideal cardiovascular health compared to their more pessimistic counterparts," said lead author Rosalba Hernandez, a professor of social work at the university, according to Time magazine
. "This association remains significant, even after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and poor mental health."
Hernandez and her team tracked over 5,000 patients 45 to 84 years of age using heart-health metrics defined by the American Heart Association to make the finding. That means blood pressure, body mass index, fasting plasma glucose and serum cholesterol levels, dietary intake, physical activity and tobacco use became the seven baseline metrics.
Along with the body monitoring, researchers also had study participants fill out surveys assessing their levels of optimism, mental health, as well as any medical diagnoses like arthritis.
The researchers found that those who were the most optimistic were 50 to 76 percent more likely to have health scores in the intermediate or ideal ranges. Moreover, the most optimistic participants were twice as likely to have ideal cardiovascular health.
Bodily speaking, that meant that optimists blood chemistry displayed more balanced blood sugar and total cholesterol levels. They were also less likely to smoke and be more physically active.
"At the population level, even this moderate difference in cardiovascular health translates into a significant reduction in death rates," Hernandez said.
The findings from the study were published in the January/February 2015 issue of the journal Health Behavior and Policy Review. The 11-year study is believed to be the first study in optimism and cardiovascular health using a large, ethnically and racially diverse sample.
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