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This research examined optimism’s relationship with total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides. The hypothesis that optimism is associated with a healthier lipid profile was tested. Participants were 990 mostly white men and women from the Midlife in the United States study who were on average 55.1 years old. Optimism was assessed by self-report with the Life Orientation Test. A fasting blood sample was used to assess serum lipid levels. Linear and logistic regression models examined the cross-sectional association between optimism and lipids accounting for covariates such as demographic characteristics (e.g., education) and health status (e.g., chronic medical conditions). After adjusting for covariates, results suggested that greater optimism was associated with higher HDL cholesterol and lower triglycerides. Optimism was not associated with LDL or total cholesterol. Findings were robust to a variety of modeling strategies that took into consideration the effect of treatment for cholesterol problems. Results further indicated that diet and body mass index may link optimism with lipids. In conclusion, this is the first study to suggest that optimism is associated with a healthy lipid profile; moreover, these associations may be explained, in part, by having healthier behaviors and a lower body mass index.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in American Journal of Cardiology , volume 111, issue 10, 2013 following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at DOI: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2013.01.292.


Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins



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