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Positivity can protect from heart attack, stoke, study finds

A person with a sunny disposition is far less likely to suffer heart attacks or strokes, Harvard researchers say.

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Charli Robinson arrives for the 'Battleship' Australian Premiere at Luna Park on April 10, 2012 in Sydney, Australia. (Ryan Pierse/AFP/Getty Images)

A person with a sunny disposition is far less likely to suffer heart attacks or strokes, Harvard researchers say.

Enjoying simple pleasures and having an optimistic outlook reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by about half, a report by a team from the Harvard School of Public Health reportedly suggested.

The researchers took into account factors such as diet, exercise and smoking. 

According to London's Daily Telegraph, experts said the findings suggested that doctors should consider mental wellbeing as highly as physical condition when assessing the risk of heart disease or stroke.

While scientists had long known that Type A personalities and the chronically angry, anxious or depressed had a higher risk of heart attacks, the Associated Press wrote, little attention had been paid to the flip side.

Lead researcher Julia Boehm told the AP that rather than focusing only on how to lessen heart risks, "it might also be useful to focus on how we might bolster the positive side of things."

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To reach their conclusions, the Boston, Massachusetts based researchers examined 200 separate research studies that looked at psychological well-being and cardiovascular health.

Boehm and senior author Laura Kubzansky also found that individuals with a sense of wellbeing engaged in healthier behavior such as exercising, eating a balanced diet and getting sufficient sleep.

Greater wellbeing was associated with better biological function, such as lower blood pressure, healthier blood fat profiles and normal body weight.

The Daily Mail cited experts as saying that if future research supported the findings, it could impact on national prevention and intervention strategies.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/health/120418/happiness-health-heart-attacks-stroke-harvard-medical-school-health