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

Curr Cardiol Rep. 2016 Nov;18(11):106. doi: 10.1007/s11886-016-0792-z.


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.

Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; Health behaviors; Mortality; Optimism; Positive affect; Well-being.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / psychology*
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / physiopathology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Happiness*
  • Health Behavior*
  • Hostility
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Protective Factors
  • Psychological Theory
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology