Satisfaction with job, family, sex life, and self may help the heart

It's impossible to measure emotional well-being with the kind of objective numbers we use to track cholesterol and blood pressure. Nevertheless, there's near-universal agreement that emotional well-being influences health, and many studies have confirmed an association between depression and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. But does the opposite hold true? Does satisfaction with life in general or specific aspects of it reduce the risk of heart disease?

That's what researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health set out to investigate. They asked nearly 8,000 people living in Britain to rate their satisfaction with life on a scale of 1 to 7 (the higher the number, the better) in eight areas: marital or love relationship, leisure activities, standard of living, job, health, family life, sex life, and feelings about self.

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