Pessimists More Likely to Die From Heart Disease

Pessimists More Likely to Die From Heart DiseasePessimists More Likely to Die From Heart Disease

For patients with heart disease, a pessimistic view of life may ultimately raise their risk of death.

In a new study published in the journal BMC Public Health, researchers found that patients with coronary heart disease (CHD) who were more pessimistic were more likely to die from their condition than those with lower levels of pessimism.

Interestingly, however, the research team - led by Dr. Mikko Pankalainen of Paijat-Hame Central Hospital in Finland - found that high levels of optimism did not protect patients against CHD mortality.

Previous studies have suggested pessimism - defined as a tendency to anticipate undesirable outcomes - can have negative implications for heart health compared with optimism, reported.

Pankalainen and colleagues decided to explore this association further by looking at how pessimism and optimism independently affect mortality for patients with CHD.

“High levels of pessimism have previously been linked to factors that affect cardiac health, such as inflammation, but data on the connection between risk of death from CHD and optimism and pessimism as personality traits are relatively scarce,” Pankalainen notes.

For their research, the team analyzed data of 2,267 men and women from Finland who were part of the country’s Good Ageing in Lahti region (GOAL) study.

Participants were aged between 52-76 years at study baseline in 2002 and were followed-up for an average of 11 years.

Upon enrollment, subjects completed the Life Orientation Test, which assesses levels of pessimism and optimism through a number of statements, such as, “In uncertain times, I usually expect the best,” and, “If something can go wrong for me, it will.”

Participants were required to rate how well each statement described them on a scale of zero to four, with zero representing “not at all” and four representing “very much so.” During follow-up, 121 participants died from CHD, the team reports, and these subjects were more likely to be highly pessimistic at study baseline.

Compared with subjects in the lowest quartile of pessimism, those in the highest quartile were 2.2 times more likely to die from CHD during the 11-year follow-up.

While these findings are purely observational Pankalainen and team say the results indicate pessimism may be an indicator of CHD mortality.

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