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Positivity and physical activity remain key in the fight against cardiovascular disease

Two recent studies have armed cardiologists with even more evidence that a positive mindset and physical activity can reduce the risk and impact of cardiovascular disease.

First, in late September researchers from Tillburg University in the Netherlands announced results of a new study that found positivity might go a long way in helping people survive manage their heart disease.

Specifically, in a survey of more than 600 people battling ischemic heart disease, the researchers found positive quality of life, mood and lifestyle habits all contributed to a longer life and better outcomes than in patients with a negative outlook. According to the researchers, the data suggests greater positivity was also linked to better overall fitness, which can contribute to better cardiovascular health. Independent experts told Reuters Health that optimism could also help diminish cardiovascular risk factors such as inflammation.

In a second study published earlier this month in the British Medical Journal, a research team comprised of experts from the London School of Economics, Harvard Medical School and the Stanford University School of Medicine found that physical activity and exercise was often as effective as medical intervention in managing conditions like heart disease, heart failure and pre-diabetes.

According to the BBC, the main message of the study – which was an analysis of more than 300 clinical trials – wasn’t to replace medication with exercise, but rather recommend the use of the two in combination to limit risk while boosting patient outcomes.

The results of the two studies weren’t surprising to University of Minnesota cardiologist Peter Eckman, M.D., a heart failure expert with University of Minnesota Physicians Heart at Fairview. In addition to a positive attitude toward health and staying active, Eckman thinks taking control of your health can be equally as valuable.

“I think that proactivity in regard to health is important,” Eckman said. “Some examples might include patients who want to quit smoking and approach their doctor about it or knowing your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and being mindful of the health goals you’ve established with your doctor.”

Eckman adds that one way people can keep a proactive, positive attitude toward their health is to focus on the factors they can control, like their blood pressure or risk of diabetes, and to avoid dwelling on factors they can’t control, such as a previous heart attack.

He also offers three quick tips to keeping cardiovascular risk low:

1) Don’t use tobacco products.

2) Maintain some physical activity and a healthy weight.

3) Know your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and work with your doctor to keep them normal.

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