The Heart And Mind Connection: Doctor Shares How Poor Mental Health Increases The Risk Of Cardiovascular Disea
How Poor Mental Health Increases The Risk Of Cardiovascular Disea : The current generation has impressively succeeded in achieving a heightened awareness of mental health and destigmatising the need to seek therapy to a significant extent. The link between mental and physical health has long been recognised. The relationship between the two is complex, but one thing is clear- nurturing your mental well-being is essential for a healthy heart.
As per a study led by Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM) in January, young adults who reported poor mental health, especially depression, had higher rates of heart attacks, strokes and risk factors for heart disease. To understand this heart-mind connection, the team of OnlyMyHealth spoke to Dr Sonal Anand, Psychiatrist, Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road, who confirmed, “People who suffer from depression or anxiety have a greater chance of developing a heart condition.”
Effect Of Mental Health On Heart
Mental health has a profound impact on overall well-being, including heart health. “When you’re stressed, anxious or depressed, you may feel overwhelmed, and your heart rate and blood pressure rise,” said Garima Sharma, senior author of the JHM study that was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
The JHM study proves that mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and chronic stress don’t just affect your mood; they can have a lasting impact on your cardiovascular system. Explaining how, Dr Anand listed:
- Stress: The connection lies in the body’s response to stress, which increases blood pressure, increases heart rate, leads to inflammation in the arteries, and puts strain on the heart.
- Depression: Depression is a significant risk factor for heart disease. People dealing with depression often engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms such as smoking, excessive alcohol, and overeating. People with depression also have unhealthy habits, such as poor diet and lack of exercise, that further contribute to heart problems.
- Anxiety: Persistent anxiety can lead to high blood pressure, a known risk factor for heart disease. The constant state of alertness, where you feel your heart is pounding in your chest, can strain the heart and blood vessels.
- Solitude: Loneliness and social isolation are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, as it can nudge someone into depression, which has a significant effect on heart health. Having a strong support network can provide emotional well-being that is essential for heart health.
Treating Mental Health Related Heart Diseases
Commenting about the JHM study, the lead author, Yaa Adoma Kwapong, said, “The relationship between depression and heart disease is a two-way street. Depression increases your risk of heart issues and those with heart disease experience depression.
“People with existing cardiovascular conditions are more likely to experience depression or anxiety due to their physical limitations and increased mortality risks,” explained Dr Anand. “This highlights the importance of treating both mental illnesses and cardiovascular diseases concurrently for optimal patient outcomes,” she added.
Some ways in which you can address your heart disorder due to poor mental health are:
- Seeking therapy, counselling, and mindfulness can help manage stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Stay active and exercise daily to boost your mood and keep your heart healthy. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
- Eat heart-healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Reduce your intake of processed foods, sugar, alcohol, cigarettes, and saturated fats.
- Practice stress-reduction techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga.
- Build strong social connections which can provide a buffer against stress and loneliness.
- Aim for seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night. Poor sleep can exacerbate both mental health issues and heart problems.
The researchers of the JHM study suggested that the medical authorities need to prioritise mental health and increase screening and monitoring for heart disease in people with mental health conditions and vice versa to improve overall heart health. This study, combined with Dr Anand’s advice should be enough to convince you that mental well-being and heart health are intimately connected. By recognising this relationship and taking proactive steps to care for your mental health, you can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease. Remember, seeking help when needed and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are powerful tools in nurturing both your mind and heart. Prioritise self-care and your heart will thank you for it.
a strong support network can provide emotional well-being that is essential for heart health.