Life Satisfaction May Improve Heart Health
by Shirley Archer, JD, MA
Satisfaction with life may promote heart health. Studies show that the mental states of stress and depression are associated with increased risk of heart disease.
Researchers wanted to determine whether a positive frame of mind would have an inverse effect and reduce heart disease risk. To test this theory, they reviewed data from almost 8,000 British civil servants with an average age of 49 years. Study subjects responded to questions regarding life satisfaction in seven life domains and provided health records related to heart disease for a period of approximately 6 years.
Data analysis showed that life satisfaction in four domains—job, family, sex and self—was associated with a heart disease risk reduction of approximately 13%. No association emerged between risk reduction and satisfaction with love relationships, leisure activities or standard of living.
Lead study author, Julia Boehm, PhD—from the department of society, human development and health at Harvard School of Public Health—told Medical News Today, “Although conventional risk factors such as health behaviors, blood pressure, lipids and body mass index did not explain the relationship between life satisfaction and total coronary heart disease, other behavioral or biological mechanisms that promote resilience cannot be ruled out. Moreover, these findings suggest that interventions to bolster positive psychological states—not just alleviate negative psychological states—may be relevant among high-risk individuals.”
More research was recommended, particularly since the study was associational. The study appeared in the European Heart Journal (2011; doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehr203).
IDEA Fitness Journal, Volume 8, Issue 11
© 2011 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.