HEALTH

Study finds optimistic women have lower risk of developing heart disease

BY Michael Johnsen

DALLAS Optimistic women have a lower risk of developing heart disease or dying from any cause compared with pessimistic women, according to research reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, the AHA stated Monday.

Researchers also reported that women with a high degree of cynical hostility — harboring hostile thoughts toward others or having a general mistrust of people — were at higher risk of dying; however, their risk of developing heart disease was not altered.

“As a physician, I’d like to see people try to reduce their negativity in general,” stated Hilary Tindle, Mlead author of the study and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. “The majority of evidence suggests that sustained, high degrees of negativity are hazardous to health.”

In the largest study to date to prospectively study the health effects of optimism and cynical hostility in post-menopausal women, researchers found that white and black American women’s attitudes are associated with health outcomes.

Optimistic women, compared to pessimistic women, had a 9% lower risk of developing heart disease and a 14% lower risk of dying from any cause after more than eight years of follow-up. Furthermore, women with a high degree of cynical hostility, compared to those with a low degree, were 16% more likely to die during eight years of follow-up.

“Prior to our work, the strongest evidence linking optimism and all-cause mortality was from a Dutch cohort, showing a more pronounced association in men,” Tindle said.

Tindle’s team studied 97,253 postmenopausal women (89,259 white, 7,994 black) ages 50 to 79 from the Women’s Health Initiative. The women were free of cancer and cardiovascular disease at the start of the study.

Using the Life Orientation Test Revised Questionnaire to measure optimism and cynical hostility, researchers categorized scores into quartiles: high scores of 26 or more were considered optimists; scores of 24 to 25 were considered mid-high; scores of 22 to 23 were considered mid-low; and scores below 22 were considered pessimists.

Optimism was defined as answering “yes” to questions like, “In unclear times, I usually expect the best.” Pessimism was defined as answering “yes” to questions like, “If something can go wrong for me, it will.”

Race also appears to modify the relationship between optimism and death, with a stronger association seen in African-American women as compared to white women. Among African-American women, optimists (vs. pessimists) had a 33% lower risk of death across eight years of follow-up. Among white women, optimists (vs. pessimists) had a 13% lower risk of death. Researchers also found that optimists (as compared to pessimists) were more likely to be younger (especially in blacks); live in the Western United States; report higher education and income; be employed and have health insurance; and attend religious services at least once a week.

Optimists were less likely to have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or depressive symptoms, smoke, be sedentary or have a high body mass index. However, the relationship between optimism and heart disease and death persisted even after considering all of these factors.

“This study is a very reasonable stepping stone to future research in this area — both on potential mechanisms of how attitudes may affect health, and for randomized controlled trials to examine if attitudes can be changed to improve health,” Tindle said.

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Wireless home-based healthcare applications, services set to grow, analysis finds

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK That $4.4 billion opportunity is really only the tip of the iceberg. The real opportunity, especially for pharmacists and their nurse practitioner/physician assistant partners, is in the ancillary services that will accompany the functionality behind wireless diagnostic devices — think a medication therapy management/chronic disease coaching one-two punch.

It’s not a question of if wireless diagnostic devices will realize that full $4.4 billion potential, but when. That’s primarily because cost will be a big driver behind adoption of these devices. The fact is that no matter what shape healthcare reform takes, the system will eventually go bankrupt without an emphasis on disease-management/prevention (a.k.a. MTM/chronic disease coaching).

Another driver behind widespread adoption will be how nicely wireless diagnostic device functionality will dovetail with the currently-developing electronic health records. As is evident with the current meteoric rise in popularity of iPhone and other smart phone applications, not to mention the increasing popularity of such social media sites as Facebook and Twitter, it’s more and more becoming a wired, wired world out there.

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Study: Zinc good for healthy immune function, destroying viruses, bacteria

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK It’s a study that probably couldn’t have come at a better time given the recent recall in this space, except you may not yet have heard of the zinc study. That’s because for all the major news media outlets that quickly picked up on Matrixx’s recall a few months back on a pair of Zicam products, not one of them picked up on this news — news that not only supports the efficacy of zinc-based products, but also provides a little insight into how it may work.

 

Not getting picked up as a news story a second time around may not be altogether bad news, however, as it may have only confused consumers around the immune-boosting benefits in supplementing with zinc.

 

But there is an important takeaway here. Zinc works. And while the Food and Drug Administration has certainly questioned the safety around a pair of zinc products, that news will eventually fade from the public consciousness. What will not fade away is the anecdotal consumer experience backed up by sound science. Studies like these only underscore what Matrixx, Quigley and now Novartis have in their zinc-formulation cough/cold SKUs — a safe and efficacious cold buster good for cutting into symptoms when you can’t afford to miss work.

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