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Be Happy, Be Heart Healthy

August 16, 2011

Happiness does not only improve your mental and emotional health; it can also make you physically healthier. One of the most important physical benefits that happiness brings is a healthier heart. Recent research has revealed that people who are satisfied with their lives are less susceptible to certain heart diseases. The feeling of satisfaction creates a positive psychological state, and it plays a significant role in preventing depression and anxiety, which are well-recognized risk factors for heart diseases.

Happy Couple Walking Dog for Heart HealthIn a new study that was published in the European Heart Journal on the 4th of July, 2011, approximately 8,000 government workers in the UK were asked to rate their levels of satisfaction in seven specific areas of their lives. These areas included job, standard of living, family, love relationships, leisure activities, and self. For each area, they had to give a rating of 1 to 7, with 1 representing “very dissatisfied” and 7 meaning “very satisfied”. Over the six following years, researchers checked the health records of the participants for angina or chest pain, non-fatal heart attacks, and coronary-related deaths.

Results of the study showed that people who experience high levels of satisfaction with their lives are 13% less likely to sustain coronary heart disease. Satisfaction in areas such as family, self, and job seemed to contribute the most to protection against heart diseases. The results were calculated with due consideration for heart disease risk factors such as body mass index and high blood pressure.

One of the researchers, Julie Boehm from the Harvard School of Public Health, said that findings from the study suggested that efforts to promote positive psychological states may be beneficial to people who are at high risk of developing heart diseases. Merely relieving negative psychological states may not be sufficient to improve heart disease protection significantly.

Photo by: bterrycompton