Living life with a strong sense of purpose may lower your risk for early death, heart attack or stroke, a new study has claimed.
The analysis defined purpose in life as a sense of meaning and direction, and a feeling that life is worth living.
Previous research has linked purpose to psychological health and well-being, but the new analysis found that a high sense of purpose is associated with a 23 per cent reduction in death from all causes and a 19 per cent reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, or the need for coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) or a cardiac stenting procedure.
"Developing and refining your sense of purpose could protect your heart health and potentially save your life," said lead study author Randy Cohen, a preventive cardiologist at Mount Sinai St Luke's and Mount Sinai Roosevelt.
"Our study shows there is a strong relationship between having a sense of purpose in life and protection from dying or having a cardiovascular event.
"As part of our overall health, each of us needs to ask ourselves the critical question of 'do I have a sense of purpose in my life?' If not, you need to work toward the important goal of obtaining one for your overall well-being," said Cohen.
The research team reviewed 10 relevant studies with the data of more than 137,000 people to analyse the impact of sense of purpose on death rates and risk of cardiovascular events.
The meta-analysis also found that those with a low sense of purpose are more likely to die or experience cardiovascular events.
"Prior studies have linked a variety of psychosocial risk factors to heart disease, including negative factors such as anxiety and depression and positive factors such as optimism and social support," said Alan Rozanski, study co-author and Director of Wellness and Prevention Programmes for Mount Sinai Heart at the Mount Sinai Health System.