Purpose in Life and Reduced Risk of Myocardial Infarction Among Older U.S. Adults with Coronary Heart Disease: A Two-Year Follow-Up

Date Published: 
February 26, 2012
Kim ES, Sun JK, Park N, Kubzansky LD, and Peterson C

Physiological states or traits can impact health outcomes, such as myocardial infarction. This study investigates the association between purpose, defined as a sense of direction and meaning in one’s life, and myocardial infarction risk among U.S. adults over the age of 50 with coronary heart disease.

Key Findings:

  • Purpose in life may be a factor against myocardial infarction among high-risk groups with coronary heart disease.
  • Possible confounds, including coronary heart disease severity and self-rated health, were controlled for and the significant association remained.
  • Each purpose in life unit increase was associated with a multivariate-adjusted odds ratio of 0.73 for myocardial infarction.

Additional research is needed to better understand the impact of purpose in life on cardiovascular health as compared to other positive psychological variables and over different ages.

Data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a nationally representative panel study surveying U.S. adults over the age of 50 conducted every two years, was used from 2006 and 2008. The study included 788 women and 756 men, with a mean age of 72.16 years. Purpose in life was assessed by respondent’s endorsement of items using a 6-point Likert scale.

Self Published: 
Health Assets: 
Purpose in Life
Health Conditions: 
Coronary Heart Disease, Myocardial Infarction
Positive Health Type: 
RWJF Grant-Funded: