The Protective Role of Positive Well-Being in Cardiovascular Disease: Review of Current Evidence, Mechanisms, and Clinical Implications

Abstract

Positive psychological aspects of well-being—including positive emotions, optimism, and life satisfaction—are increasingly considered to have protective roles for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and longevity. A rapidly-growing body of literature has linked positive well-being with better cardiovascular health, lower incidence of CVD in healthy populations, and reduced risk of adverse outcomes in patients with existing CVD. This review first examines evidence on the associations of positive well-being with CVD and mortality, focusing on recent epidemiological research as well as inconsistent findings. Next, an overview is provided of putative biological, behavioral, and stress-buffering mechanisms that may underlie the relationship between positive well-being and cardiovascular health. Key areas for future inquiry are discussed, in addition to emerging developments that capitalize on technological and methodological advancements. Promising initial results from randomized controlled trials suggest that efforts to target positive well-being may serve as valuable components of broader CVD management programs.

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Acknowledgments

Nancy L. Sin was supported by National Institute on Aging grant F32AG048698.

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Nancy L. Sin declares that she has no conflict of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Psychological Aspects of Cardiovascular Diseases

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Sin, N.L. The Protective Role of Positive Well-Being in Cardiovascular Disease: Review of Current Evidence, Mechanisms, and Clinical Implications. Curr Cardiol Rep 18, 106 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11886-016-0792-z

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Keywords

  • Positive affect
  • Well-being
  • Optimism
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Mortality
  • Health behaviors