How's your attitude? Are you the optimistic glass-half-full person or the pessimistic glass-half-empty type? If you're the former, I've got some good news for you: all of that optimism is good for your heart.

According to researchers at the University of Illinois, people who are more optimistic are also more likely to have good heart health. For the study, researchers evaluated the heart health, mental health, and optimism levels of 5,100 adults ranging in age from 45 to 84 years old. They tracked each participant over an 11-year period starting in July 2000 and found that heart health scores, which are based on body mass index and blood pressure, improved in direct relationship with levels of optimism. 

"Individuals with the highest levels of optimism have twice the odds of being in ideal cardiovascular health compared to their more pessimistic counterparts," said Rosalba Hernandez, the lead author of the study and social work professor at the University of Illinois. "This association remains significant, even after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and poor mental health."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing about 2,200 Americans every day. And it affects people of all ages and backgrounds. Hernandez and her team believe that health experts should use these results when considering programs to improve Americans' cardiovascular health. She said even a moderate difference in cardiovascular health can dramatically reduce death rates and help people live longer, happier lives. And finding a better outlook on life is a preventative treatment option available to anyone and everyone regardless of age, race or financial status. 

And who couldn't use another good reason to smile?

The study was published in the Health Behavior and Policy Review journal. 

Related on MNN: