Living with a sense of purpose is good for your heart and may lower your risk for early death, heart attack, and stroke according to an article in the U.S. News and World Report. The article discussed preliminary findings of a research team at the American Heart Association who looked into 10 studies on the link between positive emotions and overall health. While the research hasn’t been peer-reviewed yet, the early news is quite positive – those with a strong sense of purpose had reduced risk of death and cardiovascular disease.
Compared to people with a low sense of purpose, those with a high sense of purpose had a 23 percent reduce risk of death from any cause. Those with a strong sense of purpose had a 19 percent reduced risk for cardiovascular reasons, such as heart attack and stroke.
Dr. Randy Cohen, a cardiologist at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospitals in New York City who authored the study, said the findings suggest that “psychological health and well-being are important components of physical health.” He didn’t go as far to say that there was a direct cause-and-effect relationship between them.
Having a sense of purpose involves contributing to society and individuals as opposed to having fun, which is fleeting. It also builds connections with others to create meaningful relationships.
Looking for ways to contribute? Look through the following links and find an organization where you can help fulfill your sense of purpose. It just may be the thing your heart needs.
Stress and depression increase risk of death in heart disease patients by 48% according to new research. Researchers suggest that stress and depression together created a “perfect storm” for patients with coronary heart disease.
Coronary heart disease is a disease in which plaque builds up in the coronary arteries. Over time, the arteries could become narrowed and restrict blood flow to the heart. When blood to your heart is reduced or blocked, angina or heart attack can occur.
While previous studies have examined how stress and depression separately impact health negatively, this six-year study looked at patients with coronary heart disease who experienced both stress and depression together.
Patients with coronary heart disease were visited at home and questioned about stress and depression in their lives. Around 6% of the patients in the study reported both high levels of stress and depression.
Though there was no increased risk of heart attack or death if patients experienced either stress or depression separately, if you have coronary heart disease it’s imperative to reduce your stress and manage your depression. Talk to a health care professional to get the help you need.
A Positive Attitude is Beneficial for Heart Patients
We all have heard about the benefits of a positive attitude, but new research shows that having a positive attitude helps patients who suffer a heart attack or unstable angina. Optimistic people are more likely to heed their doctor’s advice when it comes to lifestyle changes to protect their heart – and their health. They were more likely to eliminate unhealthy behaviors like smoking and poor eating.
85% of optimistic patients had stopped smoking within a year, while half of the patients in the pessimistic group were still smoking, the study found. Similarly, 40% of the optimists were consuming five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day, compared to 20% of the pessimistic patients.
This study shows the impact a positive attitude can have on your heart health.
Work with your doctor on incorporating healthier lifestyle habits into your daily routine. Stopping smoking, eating healthier, and losing weight are great places to start.
In addition to your doctor, you’ll find resources to quit smoking on the American Lung Association website.
For ideas on what to include in a heart-healthy diet, download our free eBook “8 Heart-Healthy Recipes That Taste Great Too”.