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January 2019

Good News: A Positive Outlook May Bolster Heart Health

Finding ways to improve your overall psychological outlook may have a positive effect on your heart, according to a recent review published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Woman seated with her eyes closed, legs crossed, meditating

Positive people fared better in many components of heart health

The review looked at how mental well-being affects the seven components of heart health, as defined by the American Heart Association (AHA). These include eating a proper diet, getting physical activity, not smoking, and having healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels, as well as a healthy body mass index (BMI).

The researchers found that, in general, people with a positive outlook tended to have lower blood pressure levels and healthier cholesterol and blood sugar levels. They were also less likely to smoke and more likely to eat a healthy diet and exercise.

Social connections and reduced stress may play a role

Although it’s not entirely clear how optimism and heart health are connected, the researchers believe optimistic people may have greater buffers against stress, a factor in heart disease risk. For example, they may have stronger social support and a larger network of friends to draw from during difficult times.

Here are some ideas to strengthen your own positive outlook:

  • Try mindfulness training, such as yoga, tai chi, or meditation. These activities have been shown to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety.

  • Adopt habits to increase your optimism. Try making a list of what you’re grateful for or identifying and building on your personal strengths.

 

Learn more about steps you can take to improve your heart health from the AHA.

Online Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 10/20/2018
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