Positive Outlook Might Prolong Your Life

positive-attitudeSurviving a heart attack is usually rife with frustration and fear. Sure, it may feel good to have survived, but it can also be a terribly stressful ordeal.

“It can be a very vulnerable period – rates of rehospitalizations and death are high in the months following such an event, so it is really important to understand what factors may predict better outcomes,” explains Dr. Jeff Huffman, who is a cardiac psychiatry researcher with Massachusetts General Hospital as well as Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass.

Dr. Huffman is the lead author of a new study which suggests that people who approach this period with more optimism are 8 percent less likely to return to the hospital within the next six months.

He says, “Having an acute coronary syndrome can be kind of a watershed moment: people can thrive after the event and make substantial changes in the way they live their lives – being more active, following a healthier diet, quitting smoking – or they can end up feeling discouraged or demoralized, and not making changes.”

The study was small so it may not include all populations but University College London public health researcher Andrew Steptoe, who was not involved with the study, suggests, “The situation of people suffering an acute cardiac event is different from that of people undergoing surgery: surgery is usually planned so the patient can prepare for it, whereas cardiac events often come out of the blue; But in both cases, a positive orientation is an asset.”

“The situation of people suffering an acute cardiac event is different from that of people undergoing surgery: surgery is usually planned so the patient can prepare for it, whereas cardiac events often come out of the blue,” Steptoe said by email. “But in both cases, a positive orientation is an asset.”

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