According to recent research, happy people have fewer heart attacks. Building on the long-confirmed knowledge that people who experience depression or anxiety are both more likely to experience heart attacks and more likely to die from them, scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that the exact opposite is always true: people who are generally cheerful and relaxed are less likely to suffer heart attacks.
"If you are by nature a cheerful person and look on the bright side of things, you are more likely to be protected from cardiac events," the leader of the study, Lisa R. Yanek, said in a statement. "A happier temperament has an actual effect on disease and you may be healthier as a result." Yanek added that the results are about not simply behavior or even mood, but overall temperament—what sort of person you are; moreover, the exact nature of the link is not clear.
What it does mean, however, is that medication that improves mood, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, can also help lower a patient’s risk of fatal heart disease. Although the link between depression and heart disease is not wholly explored, it is believed that not only does depression effect the heart directly, it also leads to patients being more likely to let themselves go. Patients who take antidepressants take better overall care of themselves.
The Johns Hopkins study looked at subjects over more than a decade. Happiness and satisfaction with life were measured with as questionnaire. After adjusting for age, cholesterol, and other factors, the study found that cheerful people were a third less likely to have heart attacks or other coronary events, and people at high risk of heart disease were half as likely.
In addition to mood, other risk factors include smoking, having a family history of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, being overweight, having high blood pressure, stress, and poor hygiene, You can lower your risk of heart disease by maintaining a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet and getting a moderate amount of exercise. This is probably the biggest single step, aside from quitting smoking, that you can take to protect your health.