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A Positive Outlook Reduces Cardiac Events


Feeling cheerful, relaxed, energetic, and satisfied with life can reduce the chances of a myocardial infarction in patients who have early-onset coronary artery disease.

Feeling cheerful, relaxed, energetic, and satisfied with life can reduce the chances of a myocardial infarction (MI) in patients who have early-onset coronary artery disease (CAD), according to a recent study.

“If you are by nature a cheerful person and look on the bright side of things, you are more likely to be protected from cardiac events. A happier temperament has an actual effect on disease and you may be healthier as a result,” said lead author Lisa R. Yanek, MPH, Assistant Professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Ms Yanek told ConsultantLive: “Even though positive well-being seems to be a trait that does not change, there is nothing wrong with people trying to make their lives happier, along with treatment and control of traditional risk factors, as this may protect against disease.”

Yanek and colleagues examined the effect of positive well-being on incident CAD in both a high-risk initially healthy population and a national probability sample. They looked at data from GeneSTAR (Genetic Study of Atherosclerosis Risk), a 25-year Johns Hopkins project sponsored by the NIH to determine the roots of heart disease in persons with a family history of coronary disease. They analyzed information gathered from 1483 healthy siblings of persons who had coronary events before age 60 years and who were monitored for 5 to 25 years. The probability of developing early-onset CAD is twice as great in siblings of persons who have the disease, Ms Yanek noted.

Over the course of an average 12-year follow-up, the researchers documented 208 coronary events-MIs, sudden cardiac death, acute coronary syndrome, and the need for stents or bypass surgery-in the sibling group. Patients’ positive well-being was associated with a one-third reduction in coronary events. Among those at highest risk for a coronary event, there was nearly a 50% reduction in events. The findings took into account other heart disease risk factors, such as age, smoking, diabetes mellitus, hypercholesterolemia, and hypertension.

In a general population, using data from nearly 6000 participants in the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the researchers found that a cheerful temperament reduced the risk of a coronary event by 13%.

“We do not yet fully understand the interaction between temperament and disease. Others have suggested that people with a more positive temperament may take better care of themselves, but in our study, we did not find this to be the case. In fact, the siblings with positive well-being still had many risk factors for coronary disease,” said Ms Yanek.

Brain signaling to other organs is the likely major mechanism, but “we really need more laboratory research to parse out the mechanisms involved,” she added.

“Positive well-being is only one factor associated with decreased risk of coronary disease. People with a family history of heart disease, particularly those with a history of early-onset disease in a sibling, are at higher risk for coronary disease, so primary care physicians should make a special effort to treat and control mutable risk factors in these people,” Ms Yanek said.

The researchers published their results online on July 1, 2013, in the American Journal of Cardiology.Media Links

Huffington Post, “Cheerful People Less Likely To Experience Heart Attacks, Study Suggests”

Yahoo!Lifestyle, “Another reason to smile: Happy people up to 50% less likely to have heart attacks”

ScienceDaily, “Don't Worry, Be Healthy: Cheerful People Significantly Less Likely to Suffer a Coronary Event”

ZeeNews, “Having positive outlook towards life reduces heart attack risk”

FarmandDaily, “Researchers say don’t worry, be happy”

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