Gratitude Promotes Heart Health

Showing gratitude may provide physical benefits to heart failure (HF) patients.

Showing gratitude may provide physical benefits to heart failure (HF) patients.

A new study of 186 individuals with asymptomatic HF showed a link between gratitude and better sleep, less depressed mood, less fatigue, and better self-efficacy to maintain cardiac function. Showing gratitude was also associated with lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers.

The Spirituality in Clinical Practice study also found spiritual well-being was linked to similar health improvements, with the exception of the inflammatory index. Still, the researchers attributed these benefits to gratitude.

“We found that spiritual well-being was associated with better mood and sleep, but it was the gratitude aspect of spirituality that accounted for those effects, not spirituality per se,” said lead author Paul J. Mills, PhD, professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California, San Diego, in a press release.

Gratitude’s ability to transform negative perceptions of daily life to positive perceptions was especially associated with inflammation, the researchers found.

Previous research had linked high levels of gratitude with better-perceived social support and reduced stress and depression.

The current study authors noted “gratitude with discernment is worth cultivating,” considering some gratitude under certain conditions, such as exploitation, is less ideal. They emphasized gratitude does necessarily mean a person has to avoid seeing the bad aspects of their life; instead, it promotes seeing the positives in life.

“Given that interventions to increase gratitude are relatively simple and of low cost, efforts to increase gratitude in HF patients’ lives may be of potential clinical value and represent a treatment target for improving well-being,” the researchers concluded.