patients with positive attitudes are more likely to exercise and live longer,
according to new research in the American Heart Association journal
Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.
disease patients with positive attitudes were more likely to exercise and live
Moods of patients
may have better health outcomes when doctors’ treatments are aimed at
increasing a positive attitude and promoting regular exercise.
Researchers used a questionnaire to assess the moods of 600
ischemic heart disease patients in a Denmark hospital. Five years later,
- The most
positive patients exercised more and had a 42% less chance of dying for any
reason during the follow-up period; deaths were less than 10%.
patients with less positive attitudes, 50 deaths occurred (16.5%).
mood and exercise also cut the risk of heart-related hospitalisations.
Ischemic heart disease, also called coronary artery disease,
is caused by narrowed arteries that don’t provide enough blood and oxygen to
Exercise levels the playing field between positive and
negative patients, researchers said. So the differences in death rates between
upbeat and sad heart patients weren’t as striking when both groups exercised.
However, information on the types and amounts of exercise were not available.
Optimism improves health
Other studies have shown that heart patients’ optimistic
mood improves their health.
“We should focus not only on increasing positive attitude in
cardiac rehabilitation, but also make sure that patients perform exercise on a
regular basis, as exercise is associated with both increased levels of optimism
and better health,” said Susanne S. Pedersen, PhD, one of the study authors
and professor of cardiac psychology, the Department of Medical and Clinical
Psychology, Tilburg University, the Netherlands, and adjunct professor of
cardiac psychology, the University of Southern Denmark and Odense University
Mood and exercise have a chicken-and-egg, two-way
relationship with each factor influencing the other, she said.
The study’s results on patients, predominantly white and 75%
male, likely apply to a wider range of cardiac patients, including those in the
United States, Pedersen said.
Co-authors are Madelein T. Hoogwegt, MSc; Henneke Versteeg,
PhD; Tina B. Hansen, MSc; Lau C. Thygesen, PhD; and Ann-Dorthe Zwisler, MD, PhD
Author disclosures are on the manuscript.
The Research Council of the Region Sjælland, Danish Heart
Foundation and the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development
funded the study.
Additional resources and multimedia are provided on the right
column of this link.