Optimism good for the heart

Published: Sunday 31 October 1999

Here is a new way to stave off a recurrence of heart disease. Patients with a positive outlook, greater self-control and higher self-esteem after angioplasty surgery are less likely to suffer a heart attack, undergo bypass surgery or require a second angioplasty in the next six months. These are the findings of a new study by Vicki Helgeson, psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon College and Heidi Fritz of the University of Pittsburgh, USA. They assessed the self-evaluation of 199 men and 99 women hospitalised for angioplasty to relieve blockage in major arteries. Patients were asked how confident they were about changing behavioural matters like smoking, exercise, how optimistic they were about life, and how much support they received from family, friends and doctors. Six months later, they were interviewed again. Patients who were more pessimistic were found to be thrice as likely to have further arterial blockage as the optimistic ones ( Psychosomatics , Vol 39, No 4).

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