Happy Mind, Happy Heart
Researchers at Columbia Univesity have uncovered a connection between positivity and heart health. Specifically, if you do more of the things that make you happy, and if you have a tendency to express positive emotion, your risk for heart attacks and angina drops significantly.
"We were excited to discover in a large population-based sample of adults that the tendency to express positive emotion predicted fewer heart attacks across a period of 10 years," said Karina Davidson, lead researcher and director of Columbia's Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health.
The study assessed 1,739 adult men and women over 10 years, and found that happier people tended to sleep more, have less stress in their life, and were able to handle the stress in their life better than those with a less-happy outlook. Researchers assessed study participants' degrees of depression, hostility, anxiety and the expression of positive emotions on a five point scale. In the end, it was determined that every point on the 'positive emotion' scale translated to a 22% decrease in the risk for heart disease.
Researchers are now embarking on a study that will track the effect of increasing a person's happiness on heart health. Monitoring a patient's happiness could become a valuable part of assessing that person's risk for heart trouble. For now, patients should stick with exercising regularly, not smoking, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining ideal blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and body weight.