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Lower Risk of Death Linked to Optimism in Heart Patients

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, May 24, 2011

The project enrolled 2,818 patients who were newly diagnosed with clinically significant, at least 75% diameter, coronary artery stenosis between 1992 and 1996. The participants also underwent angiography or coronary artery bypass surgery.

Before the procedures participants were asked to indicate from a panel of 18 statements in the Expectations for Coping Scale, which ones most closely matched their outlook.

For example, they might check "My heart condition will have little effect on my ability to work," or "I expect that my lifestyle will suffer because of my heart condition," or "I doubt that I will ever fully recover from my heart problems."

Scores "indicating positive expectations were associated with reduced mortality risk" for both all-cause mortality and mortality from cardiac causes, "despite extensive controls for clinical disease indicators" plus psychosocial variables, the researchers wrote. 

The researchers then compared their responses with their functional status at one year and whether they died within the next 15 years.

"The most novel findings in the present study are the associations between expectations and subsequent survival," they wrote.

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