Introduction: There is mounting evidence linking positive psychological functioning to restorative health processes and favorable medical outcomes. However, very little is known about the relationship between optimism--an indicator of psychological functioning--and the American Heart Association (AHA) defined concept of cardiovascular health (CVH), particularly in Hispanics/Latinos of diverse backgrounds.
Hypothesis: Persons with greater optimism will have more favorable CVH profiles.
Methods: We analyzed data from adults ages 18-75 that participated in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL) Sociocultural Ancillary Study in 2010-11. Optimism was assessed using the Life-Orientation Test-Revised, with scores ranging from 6-24 and higher scores indicative of greater levels of optimism. AHA classification standards were used to derive a composite CVH score with subsequent grouping into categorizes of poor (0-7 points), intermediate (8-11 points), and ideal (12-14 points). Metrics considered when calculating the overall CVH score included diet, body mass index, physical activity, cholesterol, blood pressure, fasting glucose, and smoking status. Multinomial logistic regression was used to examine associations of optimism with ideal and intermediate CVH (poor CVH—ref. group), after adjusting for socio-demographic factors and depressive symptoms.
Results: Among 4,960 participants with complete data, 9.2% were categorized as having ideal CVH. In multivariable-adjusted models, participants with moderate levels of optimism were more likely to have intermediate [OR = 1.37: 95%CI = 1.08, 1.74] and ideal [OR = 1.61: 95%CI = 1.04, 2.48] CVH when compared to the least optimistic group (Table 1).
Conclusions: The current study offers preliminary evidence for an association between optimism and CVH in a large heterogeneous group of Hispanic/Latino adults. Future studies should explore the concept of optimistic bias and whether exaggerated levels of optimism are detrimental to health.