Research Says…Be Positive

— Written By Marilyn Wells and last updated by Cathy Sprinkle

Hypertension affects almost 67% of Americans age 60 and older and is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease and stroke. New research published by the American Psychological Association found that unpleasant or demanding personal encounters can increase the risk of hypertension or high blood pressure among older adults. The study focused on a multi-year survey of 1,502 adults age 50 and older without hypertension. Researchers noted that over a 4 year period, this group recorded negative interactions of exchange or behavior that involved excessive demands, criticism, disappointment, or other unpleasantness with partners, children, family members and friends. In 4 years, 29% of participants developed hypertension with an additional 38% increase in odds of developing hypertension.

Positive interactions can motivate you to be more active and adopt other healthy habits such as exercise. “Negative interactions contribute to episodes of stress and trigger bouts of inflammation which are factors for heart disease”, says Dr. Noel Merz, MD, professor of medicine and director of Women’s Heart Center in Los Angeles. Negative personal encounters can lead to harmful behavior like over-eating and excessive drinking. While you may not be able to avoid all negative encounters, you can try to limit your exposure. “Identify those negative interactions and try to avoid them whenever possible, or at least limit your exposure. Avoid putting yourself in a stressful situation if it is not warranted. Another way to prevent negative interactions is simply to entertain better company. Embrace more friends, colleagues and groups that stimulate good feelings,” says Dr. Merz. Researchers noted that over a 4 year period, the more socially active participants recorded lower blood pressure and fewer incidences of diabetes compared with those who were not as socially active. Embrace life in a positive manner to improve your health and well being!