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Research shows optimistic people have healthier hearts

PEOPLE who have upbeat outlooks on life have significantly better cardiovascular health, suggests a new study that examined associations between optimism and heart health in more than 5,100 adults.
“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 of Illinois. “This association remains significant, even after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and poor mental health.”
MR-AND-MRS-Marriage-ProposaParticipants’ cardiovascular health was assessed using blood pressure, body mass index, fasting plasma glucose and serum cholesterol levels, dietary intake, physical activity and tobacco use. They ranged in age from 45-84, and completed surveys that assessed their mental health, levels of optimism, and physical health, based upon self-reported extant medical diagnoses of arthritis, liver and kidney disease.
Individuals’ total health scores increased in tandem with their levels of optimism. People who were the most optimistic were 50 and 76 percent more likely to have total health scores in the intermediate or ideal ranges, respectively.
They were twice as likely to have ideal cardiovascular health, and 55 percent more likely to have a total health score in the intermediate range.
Optimists had significantly better blood sugar and total cholesterol levels than their counterparts, were more physically active, had healthier body mass indexes and were less likely to smoke, according to a paper on the research in the January/February 2015 issue of Health Behaviour and Policy Review.


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