Pessimism associated with risk of death from coronary heart disease

November 16, 2016

Pessimism seems to be a strong risk factor for death from coronary heart disease (CHD), while optimism does not protect from it, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Public Health that involved 2,267 middle aged and older Finnish men and women.

Researchers at the Department of Psychiatry, Päijät-Häme Central Hospital, Finland, found that people with high levels of pessimism seemed to have a higher risk of CHD-induced mortality, even after adjusting for known physiological risk factors. Optimism did not seem to have any effect on that risk.

Optimism and pessimism in the scientific sense focus on people's attitude towards their future - whether or not they generally expect a greater number of desirable or undesirable things to happen. Dr. Mikko Pänkäläinen, lead author of the study said: "High levels of pessimism have previously been linked to factors that affect cardiac health, such as inflammation, but data on the connection between risk of death from CHD and optimism and pessimism as personality traits are relatively scarce."

Dr. Pänkäläinen added: "Levels of pessimism can be measured quite easily and pessimism might be a very useful tool together with other known risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension or smoking to determine the risk of CHD-induced mortality."

This is the first study to examine CHD mortality and its association with optimism and pessimism as independent variables. Previous research that treated optimism and pessimism as opposites on a continuous scale rendered conflicting results, particularly regarding associations between optimism and CHD-related deaths.

The researchers found that the 121 men and women who died from CHD during the study's eleven-year follow-up period had been more pessimistic at baseline than people who were still alive at follow-up. However, there was no difference between the groups in optimism, suggesting that pessimism alone mediates the effect on CHD mortality. Comparing the highest and lowest quartiles of pessimism, people in the highest quartile had a 2.2-fold higher risk of dying from CHD than those in the lowest quartile.

To investigate possible associations between optimism, pessimism and CHD mortality, the researchers used baseline data, collected in 2002 as part of the GOAL (Good Ageing in Lahti region) study, on 2,267 Finnish men and women who, at the start of the study period, were between 52 and 76 years old. The GOAL data provided information on socioeconomic status, psychosocial background, and lifestyle, as well as health data including blood glucose levels, blood pressure, use of hypertension or diabetes drugs, and prior diagnoses of CHD.

At baseline, study subjects also filled out the revised version of the Life Orientation Test (LOT-R), a questionnaire that includes six statements, three of which indicate optimism - for example "in uncertain times, I usually expect the best" - and three of which indicate pessimism, for example "if something can go wrong for me, it will". Respondents were asked to indicate how well these statements described them, as expressed on a scale from 0 (not at all) to 4 (very much so).

Observational studies like this one can show possible links between risk of death from CHD and pessimism, but they cannot show cause and effect because other factors may play a role. While this prospective cohort study investigated a randomly selected group of people with even numbers of both sexes and representatives of all invited age groups across a long follow-up period, it may be limited by its use of self-reported data which may have caused inconsistencies between people's answers and the reality of some physiological risk factors such as smoking habits or use of medications.
-end-
Media Contact
Anne Korn
Press Officer
BioMed Central
T: +44 (0)20 3192 2744
E: anne.korn@biomedcentral.com

1. Pessimism and risk of death from coronary heart disease among middle-aged and older Finns: an eleven-year follow-up study
Pänkäläinen et al.
BMC Public Health 2016
DOI: 10.1186/s12889-016-3764-8

For an embargoed copy of the research article please contact Anne Korn at BioMed Central.

After the embargo lifts, the article will be available at the journal website here: http://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-016-3764-8

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

2. BMC Public Health is an open access, peer-reviewed journal that considers articles on the epidemiology of disease and the understanding of all aspects of public health. The journal has a special focus on the social determinants of health, the environmental, behavioral, and occupational correlates of health and disease, and the impact of health policies, practices and interventions on the community.

3. BioMed Central is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Nature, a major new force in scientific, scholarly, professional and educational publishing, created in May 2015 through the combination of Nature Publishing Group, Palgrave Macmillan, Macmillan Education and Springer Science+Business Media. http://www.biomedcentral.com

BioMed Central

Related Blood Pressure Articles from Brightsurf:

Children who take steroids at increased risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, blood clots
Children who take oral steroids to treat asthma or autoimmune diseases have an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and blood clots, according to Rutgers researchers.

High blood pressure treatment linked to less risk for drop in blood pressure upon standing
Treatment to lower blood pressure did not increase and may decrease the risk of extreme drops in blood pressure upon standing from a sitting position.

Changes in blood pressure control over 2 decades among US adults with high blood pressure
National survey data were used to examine how blood pressure control changed overall among U.S. adults with high blood pressure between 1999-2000 and 2017-2018 and by age, race, insurance type and access to health care.

Transient increase in blood pressure promotes some blood vessel growth
Blood vessels are the body's transportation system, carrying oxygen and nutrients to cells and whisking away waste.

Effect of reducing blood pressure medications on blood pressure control in older adults
Whether the amount of blood pressure medications taken by older adults could be reduced safely and without a significant change in short-term blood pressure control was the objective of this randomized clinical trial that included 534 adults 80 and older.

Brain blood flow sensor discovery could aid treatments for high blood pressure & dementia
A study led by researchers at UCL has discovered the mechanism that allows the brain to monitor its own blood supply, a finding in rats which may help to find new treatments for human conditions including hypertension (high blood pressure) and dementia.

Here's something that will raise your blood pressure
The apelin receptor (APJ) has been presumed to play an important role in the contraction of blood vessels involved in blood pressure regulation.

New strategy for treating high blood pressure
The key to treating blood pressure might lie in people who are 'resistant' to developing high blood pressure even when they eat high salt diets, shows new research published today in Experimental Physiology.

Arm cuff blood pressure measurements may fall short for predicting heart disease risk in some people with resistant high blood pressure
A measurement of central blood pressure in people with difficult-to-treat high blood pressure could help reduce risk of heart disease better than traditional arm cuff readings for some patients, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association's Hypertension 2019 Scientific Sessions.

Heating pads may lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure when lying down
In people with supine hypertension due to autonomic failure, a condition that increases blood pressure when lying down, overnight heat therapy significantly decreased systolic blood pressure compared to a placebo.

Read More: Blood Pressure News and Blood Pressure Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.