hbprAre you a half full or half empty person, I ask because those that are half full may actually have a heart health advantage over their more dour partners. Optimism it seems is associated with better heart health than pessimism based on a recent study of 5,100 adults.

People who have upbeat outlooks on life have significantly better cardiovascular health, suggests a new study that examined associations between optimism and heart health in more than 5,100 adults. Via the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)

“Individuals with the highest levels of optimism have twice the odds of being in ideal cardiovascular health compared to their more pessimistic counterparts,” said lead author Rosalba Hernandez, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois. “This association remains significant, even after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and poor mental health.”

Participants’ cardiovascular health was assessed using seven metrics: blood pressure, body mass index, fasting plasma glucose and serum cholesterol levels, dietary intake, physical activity and tobacco use – the same metrics used by the American Heart Association to define heart health and being targeted by the AHA in its Life’s Simple 7 public awareness campaign.

In accordance with AHA’s heart-health criteria, the researchers allocated 0, 1 or 2 points – representing poor, intermediate and ideal scores, respectively – to participants on each of the seven health metrics, which were then summed to arrive at a total cardiovascular health score. Participants’ total health scores ranged from 0 to 14, with a higher total score indicative of better health.

The participants, who ranged in age from 45-84, also completed surveys that assessed their mental health, levels of optimism, and physical health, based upon self-reported extant medical diagnoses of arthritis, liver and kidney disease.

Individuals’ total health scores increased in tandem with their levels of optimism. People who were the most optimistic were 50 and 76 percent more likely to have total health scores in the intermediate or ideal ranges, respectively.

The association between optimism and cardiovascular health was even stronger when socio-demographic characteristics such as age, race and ethnicity, income and education status were factored in. People who were the most optimistic were twice as likely to have ideal cardiovascular health, and 55 percent more likely to have a total health score in the intermediate range, the researchers found.

Optimists had significantly better blood sugar and total cholesterol levels than their counterparts. They also were more physically active, had healthier body mass indexes and were less likely to smoke, according to a paper on the research that appears in the January/February 2015 issue of Health Behavior and Policy Review.[1]

Believed to be the first study to examine the association of optimism and cardiovascular health in a large, ethnically and racially diverse population, the sample for the current study was 38 percent white, 28 percent African-American, 22 percent Hispanic/Latino and 12 percent Chinese.


An increasing awareness of the behavioural feedback to risk, not simply via emotional translation, but also via changes in decisions that have long term outcomes based on the mood of the person at the time is gaining some better comprehension. The act of maintaining an optimistic outlook in the face of what appears to be an onslaught of negativity can be hard, but if you can do it, your heart it seems will thank you for it.

The Difference Between Optimists And Pessimists.

Optimists and pessimists are equally wrong, but optimists have more fun…


[1] Hernadez R, Kershaw KN, Siddique J, Boehm JK, Kubzansky LD, Diez-Roux A, Ning H, Lloyd-Jones DM. Optimism and Cardiovascular Health: Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Health Behaviour and Policy Review 2.1 2015 View Abstract