Managing stress is known to help lower blood pressure levels and improve heart health. You can lower stress by staying active, or through breathing exercises and yoga. However, a recent study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in Baltimore has found that maintaining a sense of purpose in life can also lower your risk for heart disease.
Researchers at Mount Sinai Saint Luke’s and Mount Sinai Roosevelt looked at various studies on heart health, risk of early death, and mental health factors such as having a sense of meaning and direction that makes life worthwhile. After looking at 10 different studies of more than 137,000 people, it was found that those who had a high sense of purpose in life had a nearly 25% lower risk of early death from all causes, and a nearly 20% lower risk of heart attack, stroke, or heart surgery. Those who had a low sense of purpose had a higher risk of heart disease events and early death.
The researchers wrote that future studies should focus on sense of purpose as an important factor for health and wellbeing. Those who have–or are at risk for–heart disease may be able to find programs in their area to help them find a sense of purpose. By helping people figure out what they enjoy in life, and what makes them feel fulfilled, they can improve their mental health and, in turn, lower their risk for heart disease events.