Knowing how to appreciate what life gives us and being grateful isn’t just good for your relationships. It is also a good way to preserve your heart and your health. It’s a scientific study that says so!
Knowing how to say thank you, a good habit for your sociable life but also for your health, tells us a study published in October. Thus, being grateful in life would go hand in hand with better heart health and a lower risk of suffering a heart attack.
Seeing life on the bright side would be linked to a less fragile heart
Many studies suggest that gratitude may play a role in regulating individuals’ cardiovascular responses to stress, which, in turn, may reduce the incidence of cardiovascular diseases such as acute myocardial infarction. But until now no research has examined these effects.
To draw this conclusion, this unprecedented study focused on 912 people in the United States, aged on average 57 years. Each of them was asked about their gratitude, their reasons for being grateful, and the way they view life. The individuals were also subjected to an arithmetic test to increase their stress level (restricted time and stressful constraints). Finally, the participants completed two series of cardiovascular exercise tests (approximately 6 years apart).
The answer then became clear: people who were very grateful (life, family, etc.), and whose heart rate also increased in response to stress tests were less likely to suffer a heart attack during the following four to nine years.
Psychological factors are important in prevention
The study authors suggest that these results could be explained by the fact that people willing to try harder in stressful situations are generally those who are the most grateful in life. This could increase their heart rate, but also mean they are less stressed overall. And it’s a fact: calmer people generally lead healthier lives, therefore potentially being less likely to have a heart attack.
“The results obtained provided further evidence that positive emotions, such as gratitude, are associated with better health outcomes, particularly in promoting cardiovascular health,” said Mr. Brian Leavy, a psychologist from Maynooth University in Ireland, who led the study.
To take care of your heart, take care of your psychological state and promote gratitude, could therefore be useful.