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Sense of positive well-being leads to better cardiovascular health

Are you an optimistic person, full of good feelings? If you answered yes, that’s great, because according to a new study from Harvard University, School of Public Health, a positive psychological well-being reduces the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events.

The study, published in Psychological Bulletin, is the largest literature review on the subject to date, and it showed that more optimistic individuals had an approximately 50% lower risk of suffering a first cardiovascular event compared with their less optimistic peers.

Coordinated by researchers Julia Boehm and Laura Kubzansky, the study sought to better understand how psychological well-being and cardiovascular disease are related. They investigated the association of well-being with biological markers related to cardiovascular health.

They found that a sense of well-being was associated with good health behaviors such as exercise, eating a balanced diet and getting adequate sleep. Furthermore, an improved well-being related to better biological markers such as lower blood pressure, a normal cholesterol level, and a healthy body weight.

According to Boehm, the absence of negative thinking is not the same as the presence of positive thinking. The researcher believes that optimism, life satisfaction, and happiness are associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and that these factors also help retard the progression of cardiovascular disease, regardless of age, socioeconomic status, weight, or smoking.

Kuzbansky considers that the results suggest that, to improve cardiovascular health, we should emphasize psychological strengths rather than simply trying to alleviate psychological deficits, and suggests possible strategies for disease prevention and public health interventions.

Over the past decades several studies have shown that negative states such as anger, depression, anxiety and hostility are harmful to cardiovascular health, but few studies have shown how positive psychological characteristics are related to heart health. The current study supports the broad concept of health as recommended by the World Health Organization, that health is not the absence of disease, but is complete physical, mental and social well-being, associated with an underlying healthy environment.

How about we use today, Monday, to start a new week filled with healthy choices and positive feelings. One way is to try to be around happy people, since previous studies have shown that being around happy friends increases, by about 25%, the probability that you will also be happy!

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Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)