Impact of Despair on Heart Health

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes it is the tree of life.”    – Proverbs 13:12

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1.  The American Heart Association released a study in August of 1997 entitled Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. While its findings did not surprise anyone, it confirmed something the Bible had said 3,000 years ago:

  • People who expressed high levels of despair and hopelessness had a 20 percent greater increase of atherosclerosis, or narrowing of the arteries
  • Incidentally, this is the same magnitude of increased risk that one sees in comparing a pack-a-day smoker to a nonsmoker 1

2.  Relevant quotes from the researchers:

  • ”People need to recognize that this sense of giving up that many people feel has strong cardiovascular consequences,” said Dr. Everson, an associate research scientist at the Human Population Laboratory of the Public Health Institute in Berkeley, Calif. ”Steps should be taken to try to change their situation so they gain hope or become more optimistic.’‘
  • ”This is one of the first studies of humans that has looked at the actual atherosclerosis process and has shown a strong relationship (to despair),” said Dr. Marty Sullivan, a cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center, and “the findings… are noteworthy.” 2

3.  Atherosclerosis (or hardening of the arteries) is the leading cause of mortality in the world 3

  • “Atherosclerosis is a progressive disease in which fat, cholesterol, cellular waste products and calcium collect in the blood vessels, reducing the vessels’ ability to deliver oxygen and nutrients. Exactly how hopelessness speeds up arterial narrowing is not clear, Dr. Everson said. She noted that depression, anxiety and other types of psychological stress can affect the body’s central nervous system, influencing the production of stress hormones.” 4

4. The Bible recorded the correlation between despair and heart health thousands of years ago. The Bible is accurate in its cardiology.