Positive Attitude May Improve Heart Patient Outcomes

Man and woman laughing togetherA positive attitude could improve prognoses among heart patients, researchers at Pennsylvania State University have found. The results of the study, which analyzed patients with heart health issues, were published in Psychosomatic Medicine.

Can a Positive Attitude Help Your Heart?

Researchers surveyed more than 1,000 adults with heart disease. Participants answered questions about their emotions, motivation, and overall well-being, rating themselves on a standard scale to assess determination, activity level, enthusiasm, and other attitudes. They also provided details on how frequently they exercised, whether they smoked, their quality of sleep, and whether they took their medications as prescribed.

Participants who reported a positive attitude—defined as high levels of emotions such as determination, enthusiasm, and excitement—were more likely to get regular exercise, take their cardiovascular medications, and sleep better. These factors correlated with a healthier heart, suggesting a positive outlook can indirectly influence heart health.

Staying Positive in the Face of Heart Disease

The latest research is one among many studies correlating emotional wellness with better heart health. A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that optimistic people with a high risk of coronary artery disease saw a one-third reduction in their risk. In the general population, the risk reduction was 13% among optimistic people.

The American Heart Association (AHA) emphasizes many heart health problems stem from lifestyle issues, so adopting a healthier lifestyle can reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attack. The AHA recommends some of the following:

  • Get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, per week.
  • Don’t eat more calories than you know you can burn up each day.
  • Eat nutritious foods from all food groups, including lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and non-tropical vegetable oils.
  • Limit your consumption of trans and saturated fats, as well as soda, sweetened drinks, and sweets. Limit red meat and select the leanest cuts available.
  • Reduce your sodium consumption.
  • Don’t smoke.


  1. How can happiness make your heart healthier? (2015, October 10). Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/300731.php
  2. Laino, C. (2013, July 10). Heart health: Cheerful people less likely to have CAD. Retrieved from http://www.medpagetoday.com/TheGuptaGuide/Cardiology/40383
  3. Norton, A. (2015, October 16). Positive outlook may help heart disease patients heal. Retrieved from http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2015/10/16/positive-outlook-may-help-heart-disease-patients-heal
  4. The American Heart Association’s diet and lifestyle recommendations. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/The-American-Heart-Associations-Diet-and-Lifestyle-Recommendations_UCM_305855_Article.jsp#.ViUFj3XInK4

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  • Betty

    October 19th, 2015 at 4:03 PM

    You could also suspect that this would be true when one is fighting any sort of disease.
    The better your mental attitude is, then I think that signals that you are going to be a fighter and that you will find the strength to take you farther than anyone may have initially thought.
    I do not ever discount the power of positive thinking. Even when someone tells me that I need to be more of a realist I still revert back to the fact that this is me and that I choose to live life with a positive outlook.

  • Mac

    October 20th, 2015 at 11:19 AM

    If you have a positive attitude about life, then I think that there is naturally more of a likelihood that you will do things that mean taking care of yourself. You will want to get outside and exercise and do what you can, eat right, and enjoy life to the fullest capacity. All of those things combined are going to lead to an even more positive outlook and if this holds true, a longer life expectancy as well.

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