By Christopher Fisher, PhD
While depression and anxiety have long been recognized as risk factors for heart disease, there is less certainty over the beneficial effects of a ‘positive’ psychological state. Following a study of almost 8000 British civil servants, researchers can now say that a satisfying life is indeed good for the heart. The results of the study are published online today by the European Heart Journal.
The civil servants, who were all members of the Whitehall II study cohort in the UK with an average age of 49 years, were questioned about seven specific areas of their everyday lives: love relationships, leisure activities, standard of living, job, family, sex, and one’s self. They were asked to rate their satisfaction in each domain on a scale of 1 (‘very dissatisfied’) to 7 (‘very satisfied’). Ratings for each domain were also combined to provide an average satisfaction score for their overall lives.
The participants’ health records were then examined for coronary related deaths, non-fatal heart attack, and clinically verified angina over a follow-up period of around six years.