By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
Two new studies provide more proof about the power of a positive attitude to keep you healthy, out of doctor’s offices, and out of the hospital with a heart condition. One study, conducted at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, concluded that people who are cheerful and positive are significantly less likely to suffer a heart attack or sudden cardiac death. Among a high-risk population, a sunnier outlook, as determined by answers to a questionnaire, reduced the risk of a cardiac event by a third over a twelve year period.
The second study, from the University of Michigan, monitored more than six thousand adults over the age of fifty for a period of four years. The researchers found that higher life satisfaction was associated with fewer doctor visits. The most satisfied individuals made 44 percent fewer doctor visits than the least satisfied.
My Viewpoint: This kind of research confirms what I saw for decades in my clinical practice. Attitude makes a big difference, and has a major effect on disease, health, and the healing process. Just think for a minute about how your body functions if you are generally happy and satisfied with life compared to being unhappy and dissatisfied. For some people, positivity is a natural thing. For others, they have to work on it. But it’s worth the work.
What This Means To You: Previous research shows that stress, anger, depression, and anxiety increases the risk of cardiovascular trouble and heart attacks. This study looks at the risk from the other side, how positive emotion are protective. Even in a healthy population, the researchers found a 13 percent reduction in coronary artery disease.
Recommendation: You have to connect with what gives you satisfaction and happiness in life. Pursue a hobby. Join groups that match your personal interests. Learn ballroom dancing. Walk the dog. Meditate. Consult with a psychologist, if you need to.
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