Heart DiseaseStroke

Are happy people at lower risk of heart disease?

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center, in New York City examined the association between positive affect and cardiovascular events.

First, the details.

  • 1739 adults with no history of heart disease were followed for over 10 years as part of the 1995 Nova Scotia Health Survey.
  • They were rated according to the degree of outwardly displayed positive affect and depressive symptoms and other negative affects.
    • Positive affect included pleasurable emotions such as joy, happiness, excitement, enthusiasm, and contentment.

And, the results.

  • There were 145 acute heart disease events (heart attack, stroke, or blood clot) that involved insufficient blood flow (ischemia) to the heart, including 9 deaths.
  • After adjusting for potentially confounding factors, increased positive affect was associated with a lower risk of having a cardiovascular event.
  • Depressive symptoms were associated with a slightly higher risk of having an acute cardiovascular event.
  • The presence of hostility and anxiety were not risk factors.

The bottom line?

There might be an association between being happy and a lower risk of cardiovascular events. But this study doesn’t prove a cause and effect.

Until there’s more research, don’t worry, be happy.

2/18/10 19:07 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.