MAY 05, 2022 9:00 AM PDT

A Sense of Purpose Improves Heart Health and Life Expectancy

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

A recent study has shown that older adults in the US are less likely to die from any cause if they have a strong purpose in life. Additionally, specific causes of death, like heart and circulatory conditions, were less likely to occur in those with a life purpose.

This study included 6,985 adults ages 50 and over who participated in the US Health and Retirement Study. Life purpose was assessed for these individuals using a 7-question survey at the beginning of the study. Then, the individuals were followed for four years and causes of mortality were assessed.

The researchers saw that life purpose was significantly associated with all-cause mortality among the study participants. Those in the group with the lowest sense of life purpose were almost 2.5 times more likely to die of any cause than those in the group with the highest sense of purpose. They were also more likely to have conditions associated with their hearts, circulatory systems, blood, and digestive tracts.

The study’s senior author noted that life purpose will be different for everyone. The questionnaire included statements like, “I have a sense of direction and purpose in life,” and participants rated how strongly they agreed with the statements. Life purpose could come from anywhere, such as family, work, or volunteering. While the reasons for the connection between life purpose and mortality are not well understood, it’s possible that having a life purpose causes people to make healthier life choices, like exercising, sleeping enough, and eating a healthy diet. Those with a life purpose may also be less stressed, which can lead to better overall health.

Sources: JAMA Network Open, AHA

About the Author
PhD in Biophysics
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
You May Also Like
JUL 26, 2022
Cardiology
Only 20% of Americans Have Optimal Heart Health
JUL 26, 2022
Only 20% of Americans Have Optimal Heart Health
According to the AHA's updated metrics, only 1 in 5 Americans has "high" cardiovascular health.
AUG 02, 2022
Technology
Coolants in Disposable e-Cigarettes Pose Significant Health Risks
AUG 02, 2022
Coolants in Disposable e-Cigarettes Pose Significant Health Risks
e-Cigarettes skyrocketed in popularity when they were first introduced, especially when flavored cartridge e-cigarettes ...
SEP 22, 2022
Cardiology
Lower Physical Function Is Associated with Heart Risks in Older Adults
SEP 22, 2022
Lower Physical Function Is Associated with Heart Risks in Older Adults
Low physical function has been linked to heart attack, stroke, and heart failure in older adults.
SEP 28, 2022
Health & Medicine
After COVID-19 Infection, Risk of Blood Clots Could Remain for a Year
SEP 28, 2022
After COVID-19 Infection, Risk of Blood Clots Could Remain for a Year
Blood clots are a known risk from a COVID-19 infection. Blood clots are clumps of blood that naturally form to help the ...
NOV 01, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
Understanding the Connection Between Stroke and Shingles
NOV 01, 2022
Understanding the Connection Between Stroke and Shingles
Shingles, or herpes zoster (HZ), is caused by the varicella zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chicken po ...
DEC 02, 2022
Neuroscience
Fast Cars, Firearms and...Older Adults? The Latest Research on Aging and Risky Activities
DEC 02, 2022
Fast Cars, Firearms and...Older Adults? The Latest Research on Aging and Risky Activities
One of the most difficult processes a person can make is deciding when it is too risky for you or an aging loved one to ...
Loading Comments...