Washington: A new study suggests that people with cheerful temperaments are significantly less likely to suffer a coronary event such as a heart attack or sudden cardiac death.
Previous research has shown that depressed and anxious people are more likely to have heart attacks and to die from them than those whose dispositions are sunnier.
Johns Hopkins researchers say their study shows that a general sense of well-being - feeling cheerful, relaxed, energetic and satisfied with life - actually reduces the chances of a heart attack.
"If you are by nature a cheerful person and look on the bright side of things, you are more likely to be protected from cardiac events," study leader Lisa R. Yanek, M.P.H., an assistant professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said.
"A happier temperament has an actual effect on disease and you may be healthier as a result," she said.
Yanek said that cheerful personalities are likely part of the temperament we are born with, not something we can easily change.
While some have suggested it`s possible that people lucky enough to have such a trait are also more likely to take better care of themselves and have more energy to do so, Yanek said that her research shows that people with higher levels of well-being still had many risk factors for coronary disease but had fewer serious heart events.
She emphasized that the mechanisms behind the protective effect of positive well-being remain unclear.
She also noted that her research offers insights into the interactions between mind and body, and could yield clues to those mechanisms in the future.
The research is published in the American Journal of Cardiology.