A new study has found that heart patients who keep a positive attitude towards life are more likely to exercise and live longer. Researchers found that heart disease patients who are optimistic were 42 per cent less likely to die over a five-year period than those with a negative attitude.
A questionnaire was used to assess the moods of 600 ischemic heart disease patients in a Denmark hospital. Also known as coronary heart diseases, the condition is caused by narrowed arteries that don’t provide enough blood and oxygen to the heart.
After a five-year follow-up period, researchers found that the most positive patients exercised more and had a 42 per cent less chance of dying for any reason during the follow-up period; deaths were less than 10 per cent.
Among patients with less positive attitudes, 50 deaths occurred (16.5 per cent). Positive mood and exercise also cut the risk of heart-related hospitalisations, the study found. Exercise levels the playing field between positive and negative patients, researchers said. So the differences in death rates between upbeat and sad heart patients weren't as striking when both groups exercised. However, information on the types and amounts of exercise was not available.
"We should focus not only on increasing positive attitude in cardiac rehabilitation, but also make sure that patients perform exercise on a regular basis, as exercise is associated with both increased levels of optimism and better health," said Susanne S Pedersen, one of the study authors and professor of cardiac psychology, the Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology, Tilburg University, the Netherlands. She is also adjunct professor of cardiac psychology, the University of Southern Denmark and Odense University Hospital, Denmark.
The study was published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.
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