Taking the Tension Out of Hypertension

A Prospective Study of Psychological Well-Being and Hypertension

161139863

This study shows psychological well-being is associated with a reduced risk of hypertension, and provides important information on the impact of emotional vitality and optimism on incident hypertension.

The Issue:

Psychological well-being has been shown to be associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. As part of a project exploring positive health, this prospective study examines the relationship between psychological well-being, specifically emotional vitality and optimism, and incidence of hypertension.

Key Findings

  • There were 2,304 cases of incident hypertension during the follow-up period.

  • High versus low emotional vitality was associated with a reduced risk of hypertension. Favorable health behaviors only explained part of the relationship.

  • There was a four to five percent reduced risk of incident hypertension with each standard deviation increase in emotional vitality.

  • Optimism was not significantly associated with hypertension in this study.

Conclusion:

This study shows psychological well-being is associated with a reduced risk of hypertension and provides important information on the impact of emotional vitality, and optimism on incident hypertension. Findings were consistent across age and gender groups examined. These trends should be studied over time to better determine the extent to which psychological well-being relates to hypertension.

About the Study:

Using the Whitehall II cohort, this study included 6,384 healthy British civil servants ages 39 to 63. Psychological well-being and cardiovascular risk factors were assessed during the 1991-1994 baseline and the 2002-2004 follow-up assessment.

 

This study is one in a series supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to explore Positive Health, an emerging concept that seeks to demonstrate that in addition to health risks, people also have health assets, which can be strengthened to produce a healthier life. These health assets could include biological factors, such as high heart rate variability; subjective factors, such as optimism; and functional factors, such as a stable marriage.