Are you cheerful most of the time and search for the positive side of life, or are you a ‘gloomy Gus’ who dwells on hopelessness most of the time. If you are one of the latter, you have twice the chance of having cardiovascular disease.
A University of Illinois study included 5,100 individuals. After adjusting for external factors, those with a more optimistic attitude tested more favorably in all factors related to cardiovascular health. The University used the American Heart Association’s guidelines to measure the health of the participants who ranged in age from 45-84. In addition to medical testing, they were asked to fill out personal surveys which revealed the individual’s mental health, levels of optimism, physical health, all the effects of information which were the results of revealing personal information regarding diagnoses of arthritis, kidney, or liver disease.
Those with a more optimistic attitude had more balanced blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, exercised more, and were less likely to use tobacco products. To ensure a more general conclusion the study was racially diverse. Thirty eight percent of the participants were white; twenty eight percent Black; twenty two percent Hispanic; and twelve percent Chinese.
A study completed in 2012 at Harvard University reported similar results. They discovered that ‘psychological well-being’ contributed significantly to cardiovascular health and stroke prevention. Although ‘psychological well-being’ is an ambiguous term, they also used the word ‘optimism’ to define their findings.
For decades psychologists have claimed that a positive attitude; making a choice to be happy; has resulted in increased levels of good overall health.
By James Turnage
Photo courtesy of Texas Heart Institute