Optimism is associated with reduced cardiovascular mortality, but its impact on recovery after acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is poorly understood. We hypothesized that greater optimism would lead to more effective physical and emotional adaptation after ACS and would buffer the impact of persistent depressive symptoms on clinical outcomes.Methods
This prospective observational clinical study took place in an urban general hospital and involved 369 patients admitted with a documented ACS. Optimism was assessed with a standardized questionnaire. The main outcomes were physical health status, depressive symptoms, smoking, physical activity, and fruit and vegetable consumption measured 12 months after ACS, and composite major adverse cardiac events (cardiovascular death, readmission with reinfarction or unstable angina, and coronary artery bypass graft surgery) assessed over an average of 45.7 months.Results
We found that optimism predicted better physical health status 12 months after ACS independently of baseline physical health, age, sex, ethnicity, social deprivation, and clinical risk factors (B = 0.65, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.10–1.20). Greater optimism also predicted reduced risk of depressive symptoms (odds ratio = 0.82, 95% CI = 0.74–0.90), more smoking cessation, and more fruit and vegetable consumption at 12 months. Persistent depressive symptoms 12 months after ACS predicted major adverse cardiac events over subsequent years (odds ratio = 2.56, 95% CI = 1.16–5.67), but only among individuals low in optimism (optimism × depression interaction; p = .014).Conclusions
Optimism predicts better physical and emotional health after ACS. Measuring optimism may help identify individuals at risk. Pessimistic outlooks can be modified, potentially leading to improved recovery after major cardiac events.