Heart Health

01 March 2011

Optimism really is good for the heart

Heart patients are more likely to survive if they have a positive outlook, researchers report in a study showing that a patient's attitude impacts their ability to return to a normal lifestyle but also their health over the long term and ultimately their survival.

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Heart patients are more likely to survive if they have a positive outlook, researchers are reporting.

More than 2,800 heart disease patients were given a psychological questionnaire and asked about their belief in their ability to recover from the illness and return to a regular routine.

After 15 years, 1,637 of the patients had died. Of those deaths, 885 (54%) were due to heart disease. Patients who had an optimistic outlook were 30% less likely to die during the follow-up period, said the researchers from Duke University Medical Center.

The increased risk of death among pessimistic patients persisted even after the researchers compensated for a number of factors, including heart disease severity, age, gender, income, depression, and social support.

Attitude affects recovery

"This study is unique because it shows that a patient's attitude toward their disease not only impacts their ability to return to a normal lifestyle but also their health over the long term and ultimately their survival," lead author John. C. Barefoot said in a Duke news release.

Optimists may more effectively deal with their condition, such as closely following their treatment plan, while pessimists may experience more tension and stress, which can have damaging effects on the body, the researchers speculated.

"The take-home message is that having positive expectations can not only make you feel better but also potentially live longer," Barefoot said. The study was published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.


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