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Happiness reduces risk of heart disease

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Feeling happy, relaxed and content with life may lower a person’s risk of developing heart disease, a study has found.

Researchers at Columbia University in the US found that in a study of 1,739 healthy adults over a 10-year period, those that were depressed, anxious or angry had a 22% higher risk of developing heart problems than those that experienced “positive affect”, namely feelings of joy, happiness, excitement, enthusiasm and contentment.

Dr Karina Davidson, who led the study, said that the findings could lead to improved methods of preventing heart disease by boosting patients’ experience of “positive affect”.

Writing in the European Heart Journal, Dr Davidson, said: “Participants with no positive effect were at a 22% higher risk of heart disease than those with a little positive affect, who were themselves at 22% higher risk than those with moderate positive affect.

“We desperately need rigorous clinical trials in this area.

“If the trials support our findings, then these results will be incredibly important in describing specifically what clinicians and patients could do to improve health.”

The study is the first to show an independent relationship between positive emotions and coronary heart disease.

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