Purpose in life and reduced risk of myocardial infarction among older U.S. adults with coronary heart disease: a two-year follow-up

Abstract

This study examined whether purpose in life was associated with myocardial infarction among a sample of older adults with coronary heart disease after adjusting for relevant sociodemographic, behavioral, biological, and psychological factors. Prospective data from the Health and Retirement Study—a nationally representative panel study of American adults over the age of 50—were used. Analyses were conducted on the subset of 1,546 individuals who had coronary heart disease at baseline. Greater baseline purpose in life was associated with lower odds of having a myocardial infarction during the 2-year follow-up period. On a six-point purpose in life measure, each unit increase was associated with a multivariate-adjusted odds ratio of 0.73 for myocardial infarction (95% CI, 0.57–0.93, P = .01). The association remained significant after controlling for coronary heart disease severity, self-rated health, and a comprehensive set of possible confounds. Higher purpose in life may play an important role in protecting against myocardial infarction among older American adults with coronary heart disease.

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Acknowledgments

Support for this publication is provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Pioneer Portfolio, which supports innovative ideas that may lead to breakthroughs in the future of health and health care. The Pioneer Portfolio funding was administered through a Positive Health grant to the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, Martin Seligman, director.

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Correspondence to Eric S. Kim.

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Kim, E.S., Sun, J.K., Park, N. et al. Purpose in life and reduced risk of myocardial infarction among older U.S. adults with coronary heart disease: a two-year follow-up. J Behav Med 36, 124–133 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10865-012-9406-4

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Keywords

  • Purpose in life
  • Heart attack
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Positive psychology
  • Meaning in life