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Don't worry, be happy: It may save your life

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

A new study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has discovered that being optimistic may significantly decrease a person's risk of heart issues. While stress and its management have long been associated with cardiovascular disease, this is the first report of its kind to link a specific mentality with heart attack risk.

"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," said Lisa Yanek, lead author of the study. "A happier temperament has an actual effect on disease, and you may be healthier as a result."

Researchers analyzed lab test data from roughly 7,400 U.S. citizens and discovered that people who are cheerful, relaxed, energized and content with their lives had a greatly reduced chance of sudden cardiac failure, heart attack and other cardiovascular complications, some by as much as 50 percent.

Yanek noted that while a clear correlation had been made, the team was not able to determine the cause and effect relationship that optimism had on heart health. However, she said that people who have that mindset tend to have that quality from birth, and most find it difficult to drastically change their temperament.

Lowering heart disease risk
The National Institutes of Health reported that roughly 1.2 million people in the U.S. experience heart attacks each year, many of which are fatal.

Blood pressure and cholesterol tests are necessary to determine a patient's risk of cardiovascular disease. The NIH noted that coronary heart disease is the most common cause of heart attacks. CHD occurs when plaque builds inside of coronary arteries, making it harder for oxygen-rich blood to make it to the heart.

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