Heart disease patients with an upbeat outlook are likely to live longer than those with a negative attitude, a new study says.
Researchers used a questionnaire to assess the moods of 600 coronary artery disease patients in a Denmark hospital and conducted a follow-up five years later.
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The study found that the death rate for those with the most positive attitudes was 42 percent lower than for those with negative attitudes, about 10 percent versus 16.5 percent. Positive mood and exercise was also linked to a reduced risk of heart-related hospitalizations, according to the study published Sept. 10 in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.
The differences in death rates between optimistic and low-spirited heart patients weren't as large when both groups exercised, the investigators found. However, information on the types and amounts of exercise was not available.
"We should focus not only on increasing positive attitude in cardiac rehabilitation, but also make sure that patients perform exercise on a regular basis, as exercise is associated with both increased levels of optimism and better health," researcher Susanne Pedersen said in a news release from the American Heart Association.
There's a two-way relationship between exercise and mood, with each factor influencing the other, noted Pedersen, a professor of cardiac psychology at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, and an adjunct professor of cardiac psychology at the University of Southern Denmark and Odense University Hospital in Denmark.
The findings from the study, in which 75 percent of the patients were male and most were white, likely apply to most heart disease patients, including those in the United States, according to Pedersen.
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And while the study found a link between attitude and health in heart patients, it didn't prove a cause-and-effect relationship.