Happy Life to Protect Heart Health

Happy Life to Protect Heart Health

Reported July 8, 2011

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — Risk factors for heart disease have been known to be depression and anxiety, yet beneficial effects of a positive psychological state aren’t as clear. Now, researchers find that a satisfying life is indeed good for the heart.

The study analyzed nearly 8,000 British civil servants with an average age of 49 years. The participants were questioned about seven specific areas of their lives: love, relationships, leisure activities, standard of living, job, family, sex, and one’s self. They rated their satisfaction of each category on a scale of 1 to 7; 1 being very dissatisfied and 7 being very satisfied.

Over a period of six years, the civil servants’ health records were examined for coronary related deaths, non-fatal heart attacks, and angina, which is a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle. Results showed that higher levels of average life satisfaction were associated with a reduced and significant risk of total coronary heart disease of 13 percent. An approximate 13 percent reduced risk of heart disease was also associated with satisfaction in four of the specific life categories – job, family, sex, and self; but not with love relationships, leisure activities, or standard of living. The reduced risk of total coronary heart disease was found in both men and women.

The study found those reporting the greatest average life satisfaction appeared to enjoy the greatest risk reduction in coronary disease. However, when examining the association between average life satisfaction and fatal or non-fatal heart attack separately from angina, reduced risk was only evident with angina, which appeared to be driving the association between life satisfaction and total coronary heart disease.

“This research indicates that being satisfied with specific life domains – in particular, one’s job, family, sex life, and self – is a positive health asset associated with a reduction in incident coronary heart disease independently of traditional risk factors,” the study’s authors write.