It is not a myth or the title of a song. It is increasingly proven that optimism and joy are essential to avoid developing heart disease and heart attacks. Find out what the latest studies say.
Surely it has ever happened to you that when you are very upset they have told you: “calm down, or you are going to have an attack”. Although it is something that is heard frequently, you may wonder to what extent it is true.
Does our mood really affect our heart health that much? Definitely! Several studies have shown that, indeed, pessimism, stress, anxiety, anguish, short temper, anger and rage, when very frequent, can be taken as warnings of future heart disease.
But what are the effects of joy and optimism on our heart health? Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center recently published two studies answering this question.
In the first study, they followed more than 1,700 healthy adults in Canada for 10 years to learn how positive feelings and attitudes affect the risk of heart disease. The scientists tested which kinds of feelings the patients expressed most easily, and the findings are very interesting.
People who expressed more feelings of happiness and excitement were 22% less likely to have heart disease throughout the study. Instead, people who expressed more negative feelings had a higher risk. Of all the patients, more than 120 suffered heart attacks and 8 were fulminant.
The second study, conducted by the same group of researchers, looked at more than 2,300 healthy people over the same 10 years to determine what the effects of being optimistic were. And the results were quite similar in that patients who had been considered “optimistic” had a 12% lower risk of heart attack than those who were more pessimistic.
Does that mean that joy and optimism protect the heart from future diseases or heart attacks? The researchers do not dare to affirm that this is the situation, as they would need more evidence. But they do argue that when a person is predominantly more cheerful and positive, they sleep better, eat better, smoke and drink less, and accumulate less stress and tension… and all of this, indirectly, protects heart health.
Of course, that does not mean that you can never feel sadness, anxiety or bad temper. All people, even the happiest, go through these moments sometimes in life and it’s natural. However, during the study it was found that when happy and positive people went through bad but temporary moments, their hearts remained protected. That is, negative thoughts and attitudes are really harmful to the health of our heart when they are frequent or last longer than necessary. In a few words… “there is no evil that lasts a hundred years, nor a body that resists it”.
In conclusion, to keep our hearts healthy for longer, it is important not only to avoid negative attitudes, but to insist on turning them into positive ones and living life with joy. Joy should not be a privilege of a few, but a priority for all… because the happier you are, the less risk you will run of suffering from a heart condition.
Start by doing at least one activity a day that fills you with joy… share with your loved ones, play dominoes with your neighbors, go to the movies, go out to the park, play your favorite instrument, forgive, thank, smile. Your heart will rejoice!