In the depressing world that we live in, optimism is a rare, but useful gift. It not only helps you get through life more easily, it also, apparently, provides health benefits. This is what researchers discovered, that optimism may lead to better recovery after a heart attack.
- A heart attack takes place every 20 seconds, and someone dies from one every minute
- 14 million Americans have a history of angina or heart attacks
- Over one million people in America have heart attacks each year
- The national cost of heart attacks is over $60 billion every year
- Chewing an uncoated aspirin when heart attack symptoms begin can lead to greater chances of survival
A study led by Dr. Jeff Huffman, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard, focused on 164 patients that suffered from a heart attack. Their level of optimism was measured two weeks after the reported heart attack, as well as 6 months later.
Unfortunately, the study was only observational, so a cause-effect relationship was not established; however, the results worked in establishing a connection between gratitude and rate of recovery.
As it turns out, patients that feel a higher amount of optimism after leaving the hospital are less likely to return due to a similar cause. Optimism was determined to have a major effect in how people live their lives after a heart attack.
The researchers are positive that there is a relationship between the two, but they did not manage to find the reason. They are, however, planning a more in-depth study in order to possibly come up with a better recovery plan for heart attack patients.
Dr. Huffman suggests that the reason behind the lower readmission rates in the optimistic patients might be because of their tendency to be more physically active, thus strengthening their hearts and avoiding another potential future heart attack.
Another reason might be the more care-free way the optimistic patients tend to live their lives. It has been previously demonstrated that stress is a huge factor in most heart attacks, so a positive view on life may simply be the best way to avoid heart trouble.
The researchers also tried to relate gratitude to the recovery of the 164 subjects, but the emotion turned out not to affect recovery rates in any way. This could very well be because it is a short-lived feeling, that tends to go away pretty fast, and that it doesn’t really affect the way the patients live their lives.
So remember to be heartier. It does wonders for your heart.
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