Optimistic Latinos have healthier hearts, study

Exploring associations between emotional well-being and cardiac health in a large diverse sample of Hispanic/Latino adults.

Latinos who are the most optimistic are more likely to have healthy hearts, suggests a new study led by University of Illinois social work professor Rosalba Hernandez. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
Rosalba Hernandez - professor of social work

According to a new study by the University of Illinois, Latinos who are the most optimistic are more likely to have healthy hearts.

The study was conducted on more than 4,900 people of Latino/Hispanic ancestry living in the U.S. Each unit increase in a Latino adult’s level of optimism was associated with 3 percent higher odds of meeting the criteria for ideal cardiovascular health across four or more metrics. The correlation between optimism and cardiovascular health was consistent across heritage groups, regardless of age, sex, nativity status or level of acculturation.

Scientists found that people who scored Low in optimism trend to have ideal heart health. Each percentage point increase in optimism was associated with a better cardiovascular health score.

This is the first examination that explores associations between emotional well-being and cardiac health in a large diverse sample of Hispanic/Latino adults.

To explore whether the effect persisted across heritage groups, scientists particularly used a sample that was much more diverse. Participants’ cardiovascular health was assessed using the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple 7” metrics, which include blood pressure, body mass index, fasting plasma glucose and serum cholesterol levels, dietary intake, physical activity and tobacco use.

People’s level of dispositional hopefulness – their desire that great things will occur later on – was estimated utilizing the Life Orientation Test-Revised. The test asks members the amount they concur with articulations, for example, “In dubious circumstances, I more often than not expect the best.” Possible scores run from six (minimum hopeful) to 30 (generally idealistic).

Levels of confidence contrasted by heritage, Hernandez and her co-creators found. Latinos of Cuban and Central American legacy were the most idealistic, while Latinos of Mexican and Puerto Rican legacy were the to the least extent liable to be certain scholars.

Latinos with the most elevated amounts of good faith likewise had a tendency to be more established, wedded or living with an accomplice, better taught and more wealthy, the specialists found.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Latinos born outside the U.S. have 50 percent lower rates of cardiovascular disease compared with Latinos who are born in the U.S. Tapping into psychological assets such as optimism may provide effective, low-cost strategies for improving the cardiovascular health of some of these Latino populations.

principal investigator Rosalba Hernandez, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois said, “Problems with access to health care, affordability and the shortage of psychologists and psychiatrists who speak Spanish are significant challenges for Latino populations in the U.S. We need to find accessible, cost-effective ways of utilizing technology to help vulnerable populations.”

Hernandez’s co-authors include Hector M. Gonzalez, of Michigan State University; Wassim Tarraf, of Wayne State University; Judith T. Moskowitz, Mercedes R. Carnethon, and Frank J. Penedo, of Northwestern University; and Linda Gallo, of San Diego State University.

The paper “The association of dispositional optimism and Life’s Simple 7’s Cardiovascular Health Index:  Results from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL) Sociocultural Ancillary Study (SCAS)” is available online.