Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said, “For myself, I am an optimist—it does not seem to be much use being anything else.” According to new research, his words ring true for heart health. Finnish scientists recently learned that people categorized as pessimistic were more likely to die from cardiovascular heart disease (CHD) than those with a brighter outlook.

The researchers interviewed 2,815 adults from three age groups (52–56, 62–66 and 72–76) and deemed the men and women pessimistic or optimistic based on their answers. During an average 11-year follow-up, 121 of the subjects died from CHD.

The scientists compared interview scores against death rates and found that those who died of CHD leaned toward pessimistic beliefs. The most pessimistic of the subjects were 2.2 times more likely to die from the disease than those in the first quartile of pessimism. There did not seem to be a link between optimism and CHD-related death, the authors added.

“Pessimism seems to be a substantial risk factor for death from CHD,” the authors concluded. As an easily measured variable, it might be a very useful tool, together with the other known risk factors, to determine the risk of CHD-induced mortality.”

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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