Gratitude Linked With Better Outcomes in Heart Patients
Keeping a gratitude journal seemed to reduce cardiac risk factors
MONDAY, April 13, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Higher levels of gratitude are associated with better mood, better sleep, less fatigue, and less inflammation in heart failure patients, according to a study published in the March issue of Spirituality in Clinical Practice.
The research included 186 heart failure patients who didn't yet have any symptoms, such as shortness of breath or fatigue. Patients completed standard psychological tests so researchers could assess the patients' levels of gratitude and spiritual well-being.
To get a better idea of how feeling thankful might help the heart, the researchers asked some of the patients to keep a gratitude journal for eight weeks. On most days, they were expected to write down three things for which they were most thankful.
"We found that those patients who kept gratitude journals for those eight weeks showed reductions in circulating levels of several important inflammatory biomarkers, as well as an increase in heart rate variability while they wrote," study author Paul Mills, Ph.D., a professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California in San Diego, said in an American Psychological Association news release. "It seems that a more grateful heart is indeed a more healthy heart, and that gratitude journaling is an easy way to support cardiac health."