- The Washington Times - Monday, March 9, 2015

Have a sense of purpose in life? It may protect your heart and lower the risk of death, heart disease or stroke says a new study from physicians in the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City.

The analysis defined this purpose as “a sense of meaning and direction, and a feeling that life is worth living.” And there are numbers. All this meaning, direction and purpose is associated with a 23 percent reduction in death from all causes - and a 19 percent reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, or the need for coronary artery bypass surgery or a cardiac stenting procedures.

“Developing and refining your sense of purpose could protect your heart health and potentially save your life,” says lead author Dr. Randy Cohen a preventive cardiologist at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai Roosevelt. “Our study shows there is a strong relationship between having a sense of purpose in life and protection from dying or having a cardiovascular event. As part of our overall health, each of us needs to ask ourselves the critical question of ‘do I have a sense of purpose in my life?’ If not, you need to work toward the important goal of obtaining one for your overall well-being.”

The research team based their conclusions on 10 relevant studies that included data from over 137,000 people. “The meta-analysis also found that those with a low sense of purpose are more likely to die or experience cardiovascular events,” the researchers said.

“Prior studies have linked a variety of psychosocial risk factors to heart disease, including negative factors such as anxiety and depression and positive factors such as optimism and social support,” says Dr. Alan Rozanski, who co-authored the research and is director of wellness and prevention programs within the Mount Sinai health system. “Based on our findings, future research should now further assess the importance of life purpose as a determinant of health and well-being and assess the impact of strategies designed to improve individuals’ sense of life purpose.”

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