Why having a purpose in life is good for your ticker
A recently-released study found people who have a strong sense of purpose may be at lower risk for early death, heart attack and stroke.
Experts have long known that conditions such as depression, anxiety, chronic stress, and isolation are strongly associated with heart disease and death.
But more recently, researchers have turned their attention to the impact positive emotions have on overall health and well-being.
“Purpose in life is considered a basic psychological need, and has been defined as a sense of meaning and direction in one’s life, which gives the feeling that life is worth living,” said Dr. Randy Cohen, a cardiologist at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospitals in New York City.
The study found people with a strong sense of purpose had a 23 percent reduced risk of death from any cause compared to those with a low sense of purpose.
A strong purpose in life was also linked to a 19 percent reduced risk for cardiovascular-related events such as heart attack or stroke, coronary artery stent placement or bypass surgery, the study said.
The study’s authors pointed out they found a significant link between having a high sense of purpose and a lower risk for death due to any reason, but they did not establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship.
Still, Cohen said the findings suggest that “psychological health and well-being are important components of physical health.
“Individuals should make time for self-reflection and define, for themselves, what goals and aspirations will promote a sense of life satisfaction and vitality,” he said.