Optimistic people have healthier hearts, study finds
"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. "This association remains significant, even after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and poor mental health."
Participants' cardiovascular health was assessed using seven metrics: blood pressure, body mass index, fasting plasma glucose and serum cholesterol levels, dietary intake, physical activity and tobacco use, the same metrics used by the American Heart Association to define heart health and being targeted by the AHA in its Life's Simple 7 public awareness campaign.
In accordance with AHA's heart-health criteria, the researchers allocated 0, 1 or 2 points,representing poor, intermediate and ideal scores, respectively, to participants on each of the seven health metrics, which were then summed to arrive at a total cardiovascular health score. Participants' total health scores ranged from 0 to 14, with a higher total score indicative of better health.
The participants, who ranged in age from 45-84, also 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.