(NC) We have known for a long time that negative feelings like depression, anxiety and anger increase the risk of heart disease, but now researchers say the opposite may also be true: happiness seems to protect the heart.
The reason? Happy people take better care of their health. They may sleep better, eat better, exercise more and are less likely to smoke. They may also produce more “good” chemicals in their systems and fewer stress hormones.
In a recent study, researchers tracked more than 1,000 patients with coronary artery disease, which can contribute to congestive heart failure (CHF). Psychological well-being was assessed by asking participants, both at the start of the study and five years later, to rate the extent that they had felt 10 positive emotions, like “interested,” “proud,” “enthusiastic” and “inspired.”
Researchers from the Center for Healthy Aging at Penn State University report that higher levels of positive emotions were found to be associated with less smoking, greater physical activity, better sleep quality and better adherence to medications. They note that people with a greater sense of positive well-being may be more motivated to maintain healthy behaviours and better able to adjust their health goals and cope with stress and setbacks.
The study indicates that people who already have heart disease may also benefit from maintaining positive emotions. Strategies that help to sustain or enhance positive feelings can help promote better health behaviours.
Telehomecare, a program of the not-for-profit Ontario Telemedicine Network, gives people with CHF and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease the confidence to manage their health at home. Simple technology helps them monitor their vital signs, while health coaching from a nurse by phone helps them learn ways of optimizing their physical and mental health.
Patients and caregivers can visit www.ontariotelehomecare.ca or call 1.855.991.8191 to learn more about Telehomecare.