According to new research, being a pessimist may put you at risk of heart disease, or even death! Conversely, keeping a positive outlook can help protect your heart.
“We don’t know exactly why, but attitude does appear to matter when it comes to heart disease and health,” says University of Pittsburgh Medical Center internist Hilary A. Tindle, MD, MPH.
The study included 97,000 postmenopausal women, and none of them had heart disease prior to participation.
Participants filled out surveys to determine their level of optimism or pessimism. And after eight years of follow-up, the researchers found that those women who scored highest for optimism had a nine percent lower risk of developing heart disease and a 14 percent lower risk of dying from any cause than those women who scored lowest for optimism.
Conversely, the women who scored a high degree of hostility and cynicism were 16 percent more likely to die than women who scored lowest.
The numbers were much more dramatic among African-American women. The optimistic women had a 33 percent lower risk for death than the pessimists. And African-American women who scored highest for hostility and cynicism were a whopping 62 percent more likely to die than those who scored the lowest.
“Someone who believes that life is not worth living probably isn’t the type of person who goes to the gym three times a week,” says Psychologist and American Heart Association spokesman Barry J. Jacobs, PsyD.
So, cheer up. Your life may depend on it.