JAN 11, 2024 9:00 AM PST

Optimism Lowers Risk of Heart Disease and Death

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

Several studies, including recent research published in JAMA Network Open, suggest that people who are more optimistic have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality.

The recent meta-analysis and systematic review included 15 studies with a total of almost 230,000 participants. Each study investigated the effects of optimism or pessimism on cardiovascular events (10 studies) or all-cause mortality (9 studies). The mean follow-up time in the studies was almost 14 years, with a range from two to 40 years. Cardiovascular events included a range of conditions such as stroke, coronary artery disease, coronary heart disease, ischemic heart disease, and general cardiovascular disease. A pooled analysis was performed to determine the overall association between optimism and the risk of cardiovascular events and death.

The results showed that optimism was significantly associated with a lower risk of both cardiovascular events and mortality. Optimistic people had a 35% lower risk of cardiovascular events and a 14% lower risk of all-cause mortality across the analyzed studies.

While the exact mechanism relating optimism to heart disease and death is unclear, it may be partially due to lower rates of certain chronic diseases and higher rates of healthy habits among optimistic people. However, optimistic people still have longer lifespans when these factors are controlled for. Optimism is defined as the expectation that good things will happen or the general belief that the future will be positive and favorable. Optimistic people also tend to believe that one can control important outcomes and positively influence the future. The results of this meta-analysis suggest that interventions designed to increase optimism or decrease pessimism could be used as a preventive measure for heart disease and all-cause mortality.

Sources: JAMA Network Open, NYT

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
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.
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