Optimism Protects Against Death

Those with sunny outlook less likely to die of heart disease and other causes

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MONDAY, Nov. 1, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Being an optimist may help reduce your risk of dying from heart disease and other causes.

A Dutch study found that people who described themselves as being highly optimistic had lower rates of cardiovascular death and less risk of any cause of death than people who said they were highly pessimistic.

The study included more than 900 men and women, aged 65 to 85, who filled out a questionnaire on health, self-respect, morale, optimism and relationships.

Those who reported high levels of optimism had a 55 percent lower risk of death from all causes and a 23 percent lower risk of cardiovascular death than people who reported high levels of pessimism. The protective effect of being optimistic seemed to offer stronger protection against all-cause death for men than for women.

"In conclusion, we found that the trait of optimism was an important long-term determinant of all cause and cardiovascular mortality in elderly subjects, independent of sociodemographic characteristics and cardiovascular risk factors," the study authors wrote.

"A predisposition toward optimism seemed to provide a survival benefit in elderly subjects with relatively short life expectancies otherwise," the authors added.

The findings appear in the November issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about how emotions affect your health.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Nov. 1, 2004

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