If you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, a new study suggests it is best to focus on having a positive attitude if you want to live a longer, healthier life. The study, published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, found that patients with heart disease who have a positive attitude are more likely to exercise and, as a result, to live longer.
Cardiovascular disease (or heart disease) is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Unfortunately, there various forms of this deadly disease, including:
– Coronary artery disease
– Abnormal heart rhythms
– Heart failure
– Heart valve disease
– Congenital heart disease
– Aorta disease and Marfan’s disease
– Other vascular diseases
For the purpose of the current study, the heart disease patients that were included in the research suffered from coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease is the result of plaque build-up in the coronary arteries of the heart which leads to blockages. Coronary arteries are supposed to be smooth and elastic, allowing for easy blood flow; however, when plaque builds up, they become hardened and narrowed, restricting blood flow to the heart. As a result, the heart is starved of the oxygen and nutrients that it needs to function properly. Ultimately, coronary artery disease increases an individuals’ risk of having a blood clot and/or a heart attack.
The current study included 600 heart disease patients from a Denmark Hospital. The majority of the participants in the study were Caucasian and 75 percent of them were male. The researchers gave each participant a questionnaire to assess their mood. Five years later, the researchers found that patients that had the most positive attitudes engaged in more physical activity and were 42 percent less likely to pass away during the study’s follow-up period. The death rate was less than 10 percent in the group of positive minded individuals. On the other hand, the group of heart disease patients that had a more negative attitude had a higher death rate, at 16.5 percent. The researchers also found that people with a positive attitude and who regularly engaged in exercise were also less likely to be hospitalized for heart-related reasons.
Once you’re diagnosed with heart disease, you will be faced with a number of treatment options, including lifestyle changes, medications and possibly surgery. You may not be able to change the amount of medication that you need to take or change the need for surgery; however, modifying your lifestyle to reduce your risk factors is one change in which you have complete control. This involves quitting smoking if you’re a smoker, eating healthier to reduce cholesterol, salt and fat intake, keeping your glucose levels in check if you have diabetes, regularly engaging in physical activity and maintaining a positive attitude. By changing these modifiable risk factors, you can lower your risk of complications associated with heart disease.
The current study shows that there is a link between having a positive attitude and exercise, and how these two factors have a crucial role in extending the life of a patient with heart disease. In order to prolong the lives of patients diagnosed with heart disease, medical practitioners need to emphasize the importance of staying happy, hopeful and active.