Attitude matters for heart health

According to a new study in the European Heart Journal, people who are usually happy are less likely to develop heart disease.

Researchers led by Karina Davidson, Director of the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health at Columbia University Medical Center, tracked 1,739 adults for a decade. Nurse assessed participants at the beginning of the study. The participants were surveyed and assessed clinically for depression, hostility, anxiety as well as positive emotions, called the “positive effect.”

“Participants with no positive affect were at a 22% higher risk of … heart disease  than those with a little positive affect, who were themselves at 22% higher risk than those with moderate positive affect,” Davidson said in a statement. "As far as we know, this is the first prospective study to examine the relationship between clinically-assessed positive affect and heart disease."

The 862 men and 877 women tracked by Davidson and her colleagues were participants in the 1995 Nova Scotia Health Survey.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Check out a special report – Matters of the Heart - on heart health from The Inquirer and the Daily News that includes an interactive database on hospital care in the Philadelphia region and throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.