Apparently, optimism can do more than help you see the bright side of things. A positive outlook on life might prevent heart disease, suggests a new study by University of Pittsburgh Medical Center internist Hilary A. Tindle, MD, MPH, and reported on by WebMD.

During a 15-year span, Tindle and her associates observed 162,000 postmenopausal, heart disease–free women who participated in the Women’s Health Initiative. The researchers included about 97,000 of the women in their analysis.

Initially, the scientists gave participants surveys to evaluate their general level of hostility and cynicism and gauge their degree of optimism.

The eight-year follow-up indicated that women with the highest optimism scores lowered their risk of developing heart disease and dying from all causes more than women with low optimism scores. Results also showed that participants with high hostility and cynicism scores were more likely to die than women with lower scores. The rate of heart disease was similar for both groups.

African-American women with high optimism scores showed a decrease in their risk for death compared with more pessimistic black women. Additionally, African-American women with high hostility and cynicism scores were more likely to die than their lower-scoring counterparts.

“We don’t know exactly why, but attitude does appear to matter when it comes to heart disease and health,” Tindle said.

Need more reasons to look on the bright side?

Researchers also found that pessimists were more likely than optimists to smoke and be overweight, unfit and prone to developing diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and depression.

Learn more about heart disease here.