Being happy means you are much less likely to develop heart disease a new study has revealed after finding an independent relationship between positivity and the condition. “[This] could have major implications for improving people's health, suggesting it might be possible to help prevent the condition by boosting people's good feelings. The researchers followed 1,739 healthy adults over 10 years, assessing their risk of heart disease and measuring symptoms of depression, hostility and anxiety, as well the degree of expression of positive emotions, known as ‘positive affect’. Positive affect is defined as the experience of pleasurable emotions such as joy, happiness, excitement, enthusiasm and contentment.
The team, from the Columbia University Medical Centre in New York, found that over the decade, increased positive affect led to a lowering of risk of heart disease by around a fifth at each point on a five-point scale measuring levels of happiness, ranging from ‘none’ to ‘extreme’. So those who had no positive affect were at a 22% higher risk of heart disease than those with a small positive affect, who were themselves at a 22% higher risk than those with moderate positive affect. The findings took account of age, sex and heart-associated risk factors.”