July 25, 2013We know that depression can have serious negative effects on your health, but did you know that maintaining a cheerful disposition is actually good for you? A new study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that cheerful patients are significantly less likely to develop coronary artery disease. For the study, researchers examined data from more than 7,400 Americans and found that being relaxed, energized and satisfied with life reduced the risk of heart attack and other serious heart problems by as much as 50 percent. The research used two studies. The first study, GeneSTAR, is a 25-year Johns Hopkins project designed to determine the roots of heart disease in people with a family history of coronary disease (CAD). The study includes information about 1,483 healthy siblings of people who had coronary events before the age of 60; they were tracked for five to 25 years. It's important to note that siblings of people with early-onset coronary artery disease are twice as likely of developing the disease than people with no familial history of CAD. As part of the study, participants filled out well-being surveys and received a score that measured cheerful mood, level of concern about health, whether they were relaxed or anxious, energy levels and satisfaction with life for an average 12 years. Two hundred and eight coronary events occurred in this sibling group. However, researchers found that participants’ feelings of positive well-being was associated with a one-third reduction in coronary events. Surprisingly, those with highest risk for a coronary event actually had close to a 50 percent reduction! Researchers then looked at related information for the general population using data from 5,992 participants in the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey which found 1,226 coronary events over an average 16-year time span. In this group the risk of a coronary event was reduced by 13 percent in participants with cheerful natures. Some of us just weren't born with a particularly cheerful nature or may be going through a rough period. In that case, what do you do? Actually, there is a lot you can do to turn on the sunny side of your nature. It starts with your diet!
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