Optimism can benefit angina patients, according to researchers who suggest doctors can help these folks feel more hopeful.
Angina is chest pain that occurs when the heart isn't getting enough oxygen. The pain can be severe, and it's a common reason for emergency department visits.
Angina can have a major impact on quality of life, said study lead author Dr. Alexander Fanaroff, a cardiology fellow at Duke University Medical Center. His study examined the connection between angina and positive emotional feelings.
"People will often cut back on or stop activities they like to do -- tennis, playing with grandchildren, job-related tasks -- either because of the pain itself or because they worry that the activity prompting the pain is dangerous," Fanaroff said.
This study included nearly 2,400 patients with chronic angina who had a procedure to open blocked heart arteries (revascularization).
Over an average of nearly two years of follow-up, patients who rated themselves as more optimistic were 40 percent less likely to be hospitalized with angina than less optimistic patients. They were also less likely to require additional revascularization.
While the study only found an association rather than a cause-and-effect link, the researchers said doctors can help their patients think more positively.
"Our findings suggest that if we can identify patients who are less optimistic for whatever reason -- whether it's because their disease has made them despair for the future, they have uncertainty about their diagnosis, or they have multiple [other health problems] -- and help them feel more hopeful by focusing on what they can do, we may be able to positively affect outcomes," Fanaroff said.
The study will be presented March 10 at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology, in Orlando, Fla. Findings presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
"Feeling better about your disease process and ability to reengage in usual activities may actually make chronic angina easier to deal with," Fanaroff said in a meeting news release.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on angina.
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