“Look on the bright side” – it may be better advice than you’d think. Optimists are less likely to suffer from poor cardiovascular health than pessimistic people, according to a recent review published in JAMA Network Open. The review also found that those people with a positive outlook had a lower risk of dying from heart problems than their “Debbie Downer” counterparts.
The review analyzed 15 studies of more than 229,000 participants. After evaluating the data, researchers found that optimism was significantly associated with a 35% lower risk of cardiovascular issues, including heart attack, stroke, or other causes of death from heart issues. In addition, optimistic patients also had a 14% overall lower risk of death. When the findings were adjusted for gender and various mental health issues such as depression, the conclusion was the same.
In a statement, cardiologist Dr. Alan Rozanski, professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and lead author of the study, said: “We observed that an optimist had about a 35% lower risk of major heart complications, such as a cardiac death, stroke or a heart attack, compared to the pessimists in each of these studies.”
Dr. Rozanski says the numerous health benefits associated with optimism are due to the fact that optimists simply live a healthier lifestyle than pessimists. And another study confirms his reasoning.
The review, published in the American Journal of Cardiology, also concluded that optimism benefits the heart. Researchers looked at a number of studies on the topic and determined that optimistic patients, or those with “high levels of psychological well-being,” were less likely to use tobacco and more likely to eat healthier diets and exercise more frequently.
We don’t need these studies to know that living life with a positive mindset can lead to all sorts of health benefits. What many don’t know is that in contrast, a pessimistic attitude can cause an earlier death. One study, published in BMC Public Health, found that pessimism leads to an increased risk of death from heart disease.
The study was done over the span of 11 years and followed 2,267 men and women aged 52 to 76. Participants’ cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels were measured prior to the study. When the study period was over, 122 participants had died from coronary heart disease. The researchers found that men and women who had reported higher levels of pessimism were 2.2 times more likely to die than those who reported lower levels. There are numerous studies that show a negative impact with depression where negativity predominates. Therefore, it is important that if you have depressive symptoms (one of which is a negative outlook) to see your doctor.
If your overall outlook on life is not a positive one, you might want to try and look on the bright side of things from now on–the benefits of optimism are proven. It’s not something that will happen overnight, but if you gradually adopt a positive mindset, you will live longer and be happier in general. Most importantly, if you have depression get it treated as appropriate.
Written by Natan Rosenfeld