Being an optimist has certain positive implications for your health. Various studies have indicated a strong link between high levels of optimism and a corresponding reduction in the risk of medical conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, and even cognitive impairment. Some other studies have linked high levels of optimism to longevity.
Optimism and Cardiac Patients
Studies have shown that there are strong links between being optimistic and having a strong heart. For example, in a particular study that involved 309 middle-aged patients that were to undergo coronary artery bypass surgery, these patients completed a psychological evaluation to measure optimism, depression, neuroticism, and self-esteem in patients.
The researchers tracked all the patients for six months post-operation and analyzed their data. They discovered that the optimists were only half as likely as the pessimistic participants to require re-hospitalization. In a similar study that involved 298 angioplasty patients, the researchers found that those with pessimism were three times more likely to have heart attacks or even repeat bypass operations than optimists.
Optimism and Blood Pressure
Additionally, a study conducted in Finland evaluated about 616 middle-aged men with normal blood pressure at the start of the study. The researchers also recorded each participant’s mental outlook, asking them questions about their expectations for the future. The researchers further evaluated each participant’s lifestyle for cardiovascular risks, such as smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity. Over the four years of the study, the scientists discovered that highly pessimistic men were three times more likely to develop hypertension than optimists.
Optimism and Heart Disease
High blood pressure is one of the significant causes of heart disease, but if optimism can significantly reduce the risk of high blood pressure, can it also prevent the development of any coronary artery disease?
To find the answer, experts and scientists from Harvard and Boston University researched about 1,306 men, with an average age of 61. Every participant was evaluated for a pessimistic or optimistic explanatory lifestyle, as well as for alcohol use, blood pressure, cholesterol, and even a family history of heart disease. When the study began, none of the men was diagnosed with heart disease. However, over the next decade, it was indicated that pessimistic men were twice as likely to develop heart disease than most optimistic participants, even after considering other risk factors.
Through the various studies that have been conducted, we now know that having an optimistic mindset is strongly linked with overall good health and reducing the risk of having certain medical conditions.