Public health

Optimism has clinical benefits for cardiovascular health: review

Promoting and supporting the psychological well-being of patients can translate into a direct clinical benefit, a review finds.

Published as part of an eight-part health promotion series in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology the review authors said evidence showed that psychological well-being influenced heart health through biological processes, health behaviours and psychosocial resources.

“Optimists persevere by using problem-solving and planning strategies to manage stressors,” said review lead author Darwin R. Labarthe,  a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“If others are faced with factors out of their control, they begin to shift their goals and use potentially maladaptive coping strategies, which would ultimately result in raising inflammation levels and less favourable overall heart health,” he said.

According to the review authors, clinical cardiology encounters were an “excellent opportunity” to assess and promote psychological well-being, especially as it relates to health.

“Such an approach focuses on bolstering a person’s strengths to promote psychological well-being and health, an approach that patients may find engaging and rewarding,” they said.

Specific statements from clinicians can also support psychological well-being, for example giving “permission” for patients to engage in valued hobbies or other enjoyable activities, especially those that involve physical activity, social support, or deeper life satisfaction and purpose.

“Such clinicians’ “prescriptions” to tend to one’s well-being can be powerful and highly valued by patients, and such prescriptions may hold further weight when clinicians share that psychological well-being is associated with better health-related quality of life and superior cardiovascular outcomes” they added.

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