A sense of purpose may help your heart

March 6, 2015 by Alan Mozes, Healthday Reporter
A sense of purpose may help your heart
Study finds physical rewards in meaningful activity.

(HealthDay)—Living your life with a strong sense of purpose may lower your risk for early death, heart attack or stroke, new research suggests.

The finding is based on a broad review of past research involving more than 137,000 people in all.

"Psychosocial conditions such as depression, anxiety, chronic stress and social isolation have strong associations with heart disease and mortality," said study lead author Dr. Randy Cohen, a cardiologist at Mount Sinai St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospitals in New York City.

Recently, however, attention has focused on the impact that positive emotions have on overall health and well-being, he said.

"Purpose in life is considered a basic psychological need, and has been defined as a sense of meaning and direction in one's life, which gives the feeling that life is worth living," he explained.

The research team reviewed 10 published studies. The average follow-up was 8.5 years.

Compared to people with a low sense of purpose, those possessing a strong sense of purpose had a 23 percent reduced risk of death from any cause, the researchers found.

A strong purpose in life was also linked to a 19 percent reduced risk for cardiovascular-related events such as or stroke, coronary artery stent placement or bypass surgery, the study said.

Cohen and his colleagues were scheduled to discuss their findings Friday in Baltimore at a meeting of the American Heart Association. Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Although the review revealed a "significant" link between having a high sense of purpose and a lower risk for death due to any reason, it did not establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship.

Still, Cohen said the findings suggest that "psychological health and well-being are important components of physical health.

"Individuals should make time for self-reflection and define, for themselves, what goals and aspirations will promote a sense of life satisfaction and vitality," he added.

Kit Yarrow, a professor emeritus of consumer psychology at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, supported Cohen's conclusions.

"These kinds of studies are really just a validation of a relationship that makes a lot of sense," Yarrow said.

This kind of research is particularly relevant because it stresses the importance of having a purpose, as opposed to having fun, Yarrow said.

"The downside of working too hard and the importance of having fun is something that's been drilled into the younger generation today. But fun isn't actually that rewarding," she said.

"Fun is fleeting, and it doesn't offer you a context for your ," Yarrow added. "It doesn't give you connections with other people that are super-meaningful."

Having a purpose often involves contributing to society or to individuals, Yarrow pointed out.

"Having purpose is invaluable," she said. "And when you have it, it will offer the kind of mental clarity that will translate into physical clarity and better health."

Explore further: 'Purpose in life' a boon to your health, study shows

More information: For more about mental health and heart disease, see the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.

Related Stories

'Purpose in life' a boon to your health, study shows

November 3, 2014
Older adults with a strong sense of purpose in life may be particularly likely to get health screenings such as colonoscopies and mammograms, new research suggests.

Fatigue, irritability, and demoralization can affect your heart health

November 17, 2014
Fatigue, increased irritability, and feeling demoralized, may raise a healthy man or woman's risk of first-time cardiovascular disease by 36 percent, according to a study led by researchers at Mount Sinai St. Luke's and Mount ...

Having a sense of purpose may add years to your life, study finds

May 12, 2014
Feeling that you have a sense of purpose in life may help you live longer, no matter what your age, according to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Sense of purpose might ease diversity anxiety

October 3, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Envisioning an increasingly diverse America – the Census Bureau predicts ethnic minorities, combined, will constitute the majority of the U.S. population by 2050 – causes anxiety for a lot of white ...

Sense of meaning and purpose in life linked to longer lifespan

November 6, 2014
A UCL-led study of 9,050 English people with an average age of 65 found that the people with the greatest wellbeing were 30% less likely to die during the average eight and a half year follow-up period than those with the ...

New study links antidepressants with improved cardiovascular outcomes

March 5, 2015
A new study by researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute has found that screening for and treating depression could help to reduce the risk of heart disease in patients with moderate to severe depression.

Recommended for you

Low-salt and heart-healthy dash diet as effective as drugs for some adults with high blood pressure

November 22, 2017
A study of more than 400 adults with prehypertension, or stage 1 high blood pressure, found that combining a low-salt diet with the heart-healthy DASH diet substantially lowers systolic blood pressure—the top number in ...

Stroke patients may have more time to get treatment, study finds

November 22, 2017
Patients and doctors long have relied on a simple rule of thumb for seeking care after an ischemic stroke: "Time is brain."

Cases of heart failure continue to rise; poorest people worst affected

November 22, 2017
The number of people being diagnosed with heart failure in the UK continues to rise as a result of demographic changes common to many developed countries, new research by The George Institute for Global Health at the University ...

Some cancer therapies may provide a new way to treat high blood pressure

November 20, 2017
Drugs designed to halt cancer growth may offer a new way to control high blood pressure (hypertension), say Georgetown University Medical Center investigators. The finding could offer a real advance in hypertension treatment ...

Could this protein protect people against coronary artery disease?

November 17, 2017
The buildup of plaque in the heart's arteries is an unfortunate part of aging. But by studying the genetic makeup of people who maintain clear arteries into old age, researchers led by UNC's Jonathan Schisler, PhD, have identified ...

Raising 'good' cholesterol fails to protect against heart disease

November 16, 2017
Raising so-called 'good' cholesterol by blocking a key protein involved in its metabolism does not protect against heart disease or stroke, according to a large genetic study of 150,000 Chinese adults published in the journal ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.