A positive outlook and a cheerful disposition isn't just a better way to live your life - it’s much healthier for your heart as well. This article digs into the high blood pressure stress link.
There is a proven scientific connection between optimism and other positive emotions and good health - and this link appears to be particularly strong when it comes to the heart.
In a study of nearly 1,500 people with a higher risk of heart disease, those who reported being cheerful, relaxed, satisfied with life and full of energy had a nearly 33% reduction in heart attacks.
In other words - if you are a cheerful person by nature, you are much less likely to suffer from heart disease.
There are several theories to explain why a positive outlook is protective for your heart.
A positive mood is known to have beneficial biological effects on health, even though experts aren't yet 100% sure exactly why. Perhaps it has to do with the lower levels of stress in positive-minded people.
All feelings, positive or negative, come with physiological changes. Your skin, heart rate, digestion, joints, muscle energy levels, the hair on your head, and many other body systems are affected by every emotion.
For example -stress influences the immune system and can impact blood pressure (BP), cholesterol levels, brain chemistry, blood sugar levels, and hormonal balance.
Increasingly, stress is being viewed by health experts as a heart disease risk marker and regular stress relief is now considered necessary to protect heart health.
For example, people exposed to traumatic and/or long-term stress, such as combat veterans, have higher rates of heart problems than the general population.
In a study which looked at nearly 208,000 veterans aged 46-74 years, 35% of those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) developed insulin resistance in two years, compared to only 19% of those not diagnosed with PTSD.
Insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes and hardening of the arteries. PTSD sufferers also had higher rates of metabolic syndrome, a collection of risk factors that raise the risk of heart disease. More than 50% of veterans with PTSD had these symptoms, compared to 37% not suffering with PTSD.
In another example - losing a significant person in your life raises your risk of having a heart attack the next day by 21 times, and in the following week by 6 times. However, the risk of heart attacks begins to fall after about a month had passed, perhaps because levels of stress hormones level out over time.
While there is little we can do about the unexpected stresses we may encounter in our lives, it is clear that regular stress relief and having a positive outlook is a much healthier way to live longer.