The belief that a positive outlook can be part of healthy lifestyle for seniors has been popular for quite some time, and a new study from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine suggests there may be some validity to that notion. Researchers found that people with a cheerful temperament have a significantly lower risk of experiencing a number of heart-related health issues, such as sudden cardiac death and heart attack, according to results published in the American Journal of Cardiology.
Researchers relied on data from the Genetic Study of Atherosclerosis Risk, which helped them determine what the root cause of heart disease was for people with a family history of the ailment. Then, they took information from nearly 1,500 siblings of people who had a coronary event under the age of 60 and followed their well-being for 25 years. In addition to monitoring their health, the study team also measured how cheerful participants were and whether they were relaxed or anxious. They found that people with a positive outlook decreased their risk of a coronary event by about one-third.
"If you are by nature a cheerful person and look on the bright side of things, you are more likely to be protected from cardiac events," said study leader Lisa R. Yanek. "A happier temperament has an actual effect on disease, and you may be healthier as a result."
The findings could have a far-reaching impact on how the senior community views healthy aging, especially given the rising prevalence of depression among older adults. According to that National Alliance, depression affects approximately 6.5 million Americans who are 65 or older.