Embargoed until 11:45 a.m. ET, Friday, March 6, 2015 – Abstract 52

Sense of purpose may lower risk of death, heart attack, stroke

Those who possess a low sense of purpose in life are more likely to die or have heart attacks or strokes.

Having a sense of purpose in life is a component of psychological well-being and is linked to finding meaning that aligns with a person’s values and goals, according to new research presented at the American Heart Association EPI/Lifestyle 2015 meeting. Researchers analyzed 10 relevant studies (including a total of more than 137,000 people) to help determine whether a sense of purpose impacts death rates or cardiovascular events.

Over an average follow-up of 8.5 years, they found that having a high sense of  purpose in life was associated with a 23 percent reduction in death from all causes and a 19 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular events, including heart attacks, strokes, or the need for coronary artery stent placement or bypass surgery.

Researchers suggest future studies should focus on strategies to help people who are identified as having a low sense of purpose in life.

Randy Cohen, M.D., M.S., Mt. Sinai St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, N.Y., N.Y.

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