Optimism Protects Your Heart!

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Remarkably, science continues to demonstrate that optimistic people are at less risk for illness and death, when contrasted with their more pessimistic peers. 

Last week’s blog post looked at a study that showed an optimistic attitude was associated with healthier aging in 33,000 women over an 8 year period. At the start of the study, their average age was 67 years.

This week, let’s consider 3 studies that show optimism is associated with better cardiovascular health.

JAMA (the journal of he American Medical Association) is a highly respected source of medical information.  In 2019, JAMA published a ‘meta-analysis’ survey that analyzed the results of 15 studies — studies involving the health outcomes of about 230,000 individuals.  

The researchers discovered that “optimism was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular events, and pessimism was associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular events”.  

Not only was optimism associated with fewer cardiovascular problems — optimism was associated with less “all-cause mortality” too.  

Another, smaller study in 2014, investigated pessimism as a factor in heart failure. Researchers concluded that “Higher optimism was associated with a lower risk of heart failure”. 

A 2004 study looked at the effects of optimism on the progression of "carotid atherosclerosis" (narrowing of the carotid artery) in middle-aged women. The study concluded "Optimistic women are less likely to show progression of carotid disease in mid-life than are pessimists".

Would you like to measure your own levels of optimism? 

These various scientific studies use several different psychological tools to measure optimism, but the most common is the “Life Orientation Test–Revised”. 

Last week’s blog post lists 3 of the 6 statements used to measure optimism in the “Life Orientation Test-Revised”. 

The complete test is also available online. You might like to assess your own optimism levels using the same psychological measure used in many of these scientific studies.

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[ See the PubMed 'abstract' of the JAMA paper: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31560385/ ]

[ See the PubMed 'abstract' about Carotid Artery Disease: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15385685/  ]

[ See the PubMed 'abstract' about Heart Failure:  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24647117/. ]

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