If you want to live longer, it pays to look on the bright side. A recently released study of 545 Dutch men aged 64 – 84 found that those who were optimistic had a 50% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

The study followed these men fifteen years, during which time they periodically submitted questionnaires regarding their outlook on life. Not surprisingly, those who expressed the highest levels of optimism had the lowest incidence of heart disease while those whose outlooks were the bleakest experienced the most heart problems.

Several studies have also shown that having a life partner improves your well-being, but new research shows that how you argue with your partner directly affects your heart. Psychology professor Tim Smith has found a correlation between how couples handle their spats and arteriosclerosis.

Over the course of three years 150 healthy couples were videotaped while discussing “hot” issues such as in-laws and money. They then underwent a CT scan to look for calcification in their coronary arteries, a sign of arteriosclerosis.

Smith and his colleagues found that women who either expressed or experienced hostility had higher rates of hardening in their arteries. Men who were either controlling themselves or felt controlled by their partner also experienced more hardening.

So if you want a healthy heart, learn how to argue constructively. Avoid angry or mean statements and instead look for ways to compromise. And, of course, keep an optimistic outlook!

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