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Happiness is good for the heart

Don't worry, be happy!

According to a recently released study in the European Heart Journal found people with positive personality traits like happiness, contentment and enthusiasm had a reduced risk of heart disease.

Researchers followed 1,739 healthy adults living in Nova Scotia, Canada, for 10 years to determine whether attitudes affect their health.

After accounting for known heart disease risk factors, the researchers found that the happiest people were 22 percent less likely to develop heart disease over the 10 years of follow-up than people who fell in the middle of he negative-postive emotion scale.

People with the most negative emotions had the highest risk for heart disease and people who scored highest for happiness had the lowest risk.

"It is just speculation at this point, but there are several possible explanations for how happiness may protect the heart," lead researcher Karina W. Davidson, PhD, of Columbia University Medical Center told WebMD.

They include:

  • Healthier lifestyle: Happy people tend to sleep better, eat better, smoke less and get more exercise. All of these things lower the risk of heart disease.
  • Physiological impact: Happiness may produce a host of positive chemical changes - such as reduction in stress hormones - that are good for the heart.
  • Genetic influences: It could be that people who are predisposed to happiness are also predisposed to have fewer heart attacks.
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