Satisfaction with daily life may protect against heart disease

Being satisfied with everyday life is more than just a psychological state—it may also be good for the heart, according to a study led by Harvard School of Public Health researchers. The study appeared online July 5, 2011, in the European Heart Journal.

HSPH’s Julia Boehm and Laura Kubzansky in HSPH’s Department of Society, Human Development, and Health, and colleagues found that higher levels of average life satisfaction were associated with a 13% reduced risk of coronary heart disease among the 8,000 British civil servants in the study cohort. The participants were asked to rate their satisfaction with seven specific areas of their everyday lives: love relationships, leisure activities, standard of living, job, family, sex, and one’s self. The researchers then examined participants’ health records for coronary-related deaths, non-fatal heart attacks, and angina over a six-year period and found the association between satisfaction and a lower incidence of heart disease. They also found that the greater the satisfaction, the greater the protection.

Depression and anxiety have long been recognized as risk factors for heart disease. These new findings, as Boehm noted in a European Society of Cardiology press release, “suggest that interventions to bolster positive psychological states—not just alleviate negative psychological states—may be relevant among high-risk individuals.”

Read European Society of Cardiology press release

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Happiness and Health (Harvard Public Health Review)