Optimism and cardiovascular disease

High optimism low CVD mortality

Optimism was a relatively stable trait over 15 years in the Zutphen Elderly Study. Elderly men with a high level of optimism had only half the risk of 15-year CVD mortality compared to those with a low level of optimism. Similar results were obtained after adjustment for CVD risk factors, lifestyle factors, living arrangements, self-rated health and depressive symptoms.


Optimism was not related to major cardiovascular risk factors. However, a high level of optimism was associated with better coping behavior, goal-directed efforts such as better self-care, vitality, emotional flexibility and seeking social support. Optimism was also related to physical activity, non-smoking, moderate alcohol intake and higher intakes of fruit, vegetables and whole-grain bread. This suggests that a high level of optimism affects the risk of cardiovascular death through positive psycho-social behaviors, more healthy lifestyle and dietary habits.

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