According to new research published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, heart disease patients who maintain a positive outlook are more likely to exercise, take their medication, and perform other steps to prevent further heart trouble.
For the study, researchers analyzed surveys and physical exams of over 1,000 adults with heart disease. Participants graded themselves on a scale of positive and negative emotions. If they agreed that they were enthusiastic, strong, interested, and determined, they were considered to be more positive.
Positive participants were up to 50% more likely to exercise regularly, sleep well, and take their heart medication compared to those who were less positive. They were also less likely to be smokers. When positivity evolved over the following five years, so did the participant’s likelihood of adopting healthy habits.
Nancy Sin, the study’s lead researcher, explains that study researchers can’t say for sure that positive emotions led to healthier behaviors. However, the researchers do believe that the two are connected and may feed off each other.
James Maddux, a senior scholar at the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, agrees with Sin: “Everything is so closely connected, there is no chicken and no egg,” says Maddux, who was not part of the study.
According to Maddux, positive people will become task-oriented when faced with a challenge (i.e. heart disease): “They’ll think, OK, what do I need to do to address this challenge,” he notes.
On the other end, says Maddux, negative people often feel there is little they can do about life’s challenges: “Your disposition affects your ability to set goals and to put those plans in motion,” Maddux says. He suggests that people should talk to their doctors about ways to overcome obstacles, including joining support groups to be around people who are facing similar challenges.
Source for Today’s Article:
Norton, A., “Positive Outlook May Help Heart Disease Patients Heal,” MedicineNet.com, October 16, 2015; http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=191264.