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Want Better Heart Health? Don’t Worry, Be Happy

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Are you a glass half-empty or a glass half-full kind of person?  Researchers say a glass half-full perspective could do more for you than just make you smile.  Positive feelings may help protect cardiovascular health, a review of studies has found.

In the first and largest systemic review on this topic to date, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston found that positive psychological well-being appears to reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events.  

In the review, which included more than 200 studies published in two major scientific databases, researchers found there are psychological assets, like optimism and positive emotion, that afford protection against cardiovascular disease.  It also appears that these factors slow the progression of the disease.

People who have a positive attitude also had a healthier lifestyle, which included exercise, a balanced diet and sufficient sleep, they found.

Additionally, greater well-being was related to better biological function, such as lower blood pressure, healthier lipid (blood fat) profiles and normal body weight.

Professor Laura Kubzansky, a lead author of the study, said, "These findings suggest that an emphasis on bolstering psychological strengths rather than simply mitigating psychological deficits may improve cardiovascular health."

The review's findings were published online in Psychological Bulletin.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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