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Optimism About Heart Risk Pays Off
Date:7/14/2008

to do, rather than on making people more fearful."

The failure to see a similar effect in women can be explained by the era in which the study was started -- the early 1990s, when the focus was entirely on the risk of cardiovascular disease for men, he said.

Today, it is widely known that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for American women as well as men, Gramling said. "So, in men, you got more of a fear response," he said. "In women, being at higher risk was not as threatening. That might not be true any more."

Gramling is working along the same lines at Rochester. "The next step is to test under what conditions holding an optimistic view is most helpful and under what conditions it is not helpful," he said.

Meanwhile, there is no harm in feeling cheerful about cardiovascular health, as long as you follow the advice about the value of a good diet, exercise, blood pressure control and the like, Gramling said.

Another report in the same issue of the journal described a helpful outcome of combined treatment for high blood pressure and depression. A study of 64 adults found that those who had drug therapy for both conditions simultaneously achieved lower blood pressure level and were more likely to take their antidepressant drugs on schedule, according to physicians at the University of Pennsylvania.

More information

A scale for determining your individual cardiovascular risk is provided by the National Cholesterol Education Program.



SOURCES: Robert Gramling, M.D., assistant professor, family medicine, University of Rochester, N.Y.; July/August 2008, Annals of Family Medicine


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