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Happiness Protects Your Heart
Date:2/17/2010

Those most content reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, researchers say ,,

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 17 (HealthDay News) -- People who are enthusiastic and content are less likely to develop heart disease than less happy people, researchers from Columbia University report.

In this prospective study of the relationship between happiness and heart disease, researchers concluded that if everyone did more of the things that made them happy, they could significantly reduce their risk of heart attack and angina.

"We were excited to discover in a large population-based sample of adults that the tendency to express positive emotion predicted fewer heart attacks across a period of 10 years," said lead researcher Karina Davidson, director of Columbia's Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health.

"The study suggests that those people who are happier have heart-protective outcomes," she added.

Davidson speculated that several factors may combine to producing this effect. Happier people tend to sleep better and to practice more heart-healthy behaviors, she said.

"But they may also be physiologically different than those of us who are more unhappy," Davidson said.

In addition, these people tend to have less stress in their lives and handle the stress they do have better than less happy people, she added.

The report is published in the Feb. 18 issue of the European Heart Journal.

For the study, Davidson's team followed 1,739 men and women for 10 years. These people all participated in the 1995 Nova Scotia Health Survey. At the start of the study, everyone had their risk for heart disease assessed.

In addition, researchers looked for symptoms of depression, hostility, anxiety and the expression of positive emotions -- known as "positive affect." This is defined as the experience of pleasurable emotions, such as joy, happiness, excitement, enthusiasm and contentment,
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