Optimism and pessimism are associated with cardiovascular disease mortality and progression, however the biological mechanism remains unclear. This study investigates the association between optimism/pessimism and concentrations of seven inflammation and hemostasis markers.
This cross-sectional study used data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), a study of 6814 persons aged 45–84 with no history of clinical cardiovascular disease. The Life-Orientation Test—Revised (LOT-R) was used to measure dispositional optimism and pessimism. Regression analyses were used to estimate associations of optimism and pessimism with interleukin-6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein (CRP), fibrinogen, homocysteine, factor VIII, D-dimer, and plasmin-antiplasmin, before and after adjustment for sociodemographics, depression, cynicism, health behaviors, BMI, hypertension, and diabetes.
Higher scores on the LOT-R (positive disposition) were related to lower concentrations of IL-6 (p=0.001), fibrinogen (p<0.001) and homocysteine (p=0.031). Associations were stronger for the pessimism subscale. After adjustment for demographics, the percentage differences in inflammatory markers corresponding to a 2-standard deviation increase in pessimism were 6.01% (p=0.001) for IL-6; 10.31% (p=0.001) for CRP; 2.47% (p<0.0001) for fibrinogen, and 1.36% (p=0.07) for homocysteine. Associations were attenuated but significant after adjustment for sociodemographics, depression, cynical distrust, and behaviors. Further adjustment for hypertension, BMI and diabetes reduced associations for CRP and IL-6. Pessimism remained associated with a 1.36% (p=0.02) increase in fibrinogen in the fully adjusted model. Factor VIII, D-dimer and plasmin-antiplasmin were not associated with the LOT-R or subscales.
Pessimism is related to higher levels of inflammation. Health behaviors, BMI, hypertension and diabetes appear to play a mediating role.