After ten years of monitoring 1700 patients for their heart conditions, U.S researchers have concluded that individuals that are most anxious and depressed are at the highest risk of developing a heart disease.
The study published in the European Heart Journal, assessed participants for emotions ranging from hostility and anxiousness to joy, enthusiasm and contentment by giving them a rating on a five-point scale to score their level of positive emotions. The findings revealed that individuals with more positive emotions were at 22% lesser risk of developing heart disease when compared to the other study participants.
Heart disease is the leading killer of men and women in Europe, the United States and most industrialized countries. Together with diabetes, cardiovascular diseases accounted for 32 percent of all deaths around the world in 2005, according to the World Health Organization.
Although the results of this study were encouraging, researchers have stressed that more work needs to be done before treatment protocols can be mapped out. “We desperately need rigorous clinical trials in this area. If the trials support our findings, then these results will be incredibly important in describing specifically what clinicians and/or patients could do to improve health,” Karina Davidson of Columbia University Medical Centre wrote in the study in the European Heart Journal.
Davidson’s team said one possible reason for the link between happiness and heart risk could be that people who are happier tend to have longer periods of rest or relaxation, and may recover more quickly from stressful events and not spend as much time “re-living” them. She further added: “Essentially spending a few minutes each day truly relaxed and enjoying yourself is certainly good for your mental health and may improve your physical health as well.”
Written by Snigdha Taduri