Can Good Psychological Health Reduce Cardiovascular Risk?

April 2, 2021

According to a recent Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association, there is increasing evidence that your mental health can impact your heart positively and or negatively.

The authors of Psychological Health, Well-Being, and the Mind-Heart-Body Connection: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association set out to understand the relationship between psychological health and cardiovascular health and to make recommendations for health care providers to improve the screening and treatment of those with or at risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Some of the key takeaways from that statement are below:

Negative Psychological Health Adversely Affects Heart Health:

Negative psychological health conditions such as depression, chronic stress, pessimism and dissatisfaction with one's life are associated with potentially harmful physical responses like irregular heart rate and rhythm, digestive issues, increased blood pressure, inflammation.  Negative psychological health is also associated with harmful health behaviors such as smoking, inactivity, unhealthy diet and lack of medication adherence.

Optimism and Positivity Pay Off:

Positive psychological health such as optimism and positive mental states are associated with a healthier heart and body.  

Evaluation of Psychological Health Should Be a Key Component of Heart Care:

Health care professionals should consider patients’ psychological health when evaluating or treating people with or at risk for CVD. Simple screening tools can be used to identify those needing some form of psychosocial intervention.

One thing is for certain – heart care should be holistic involving both the mind and body. Clinicians should strive to treat not just the disease state but the patient and the person.  As the authors state, “There is now an increasing appreciation of how psychological health can contribute not only in a negative way to cardiovascular disease but also in a positive way to better cardiovascular health and reduced cardiovascular risk." Cardiovascular disease should be addressed as part of an integrated system in which mind, heart, and body are interconnected. Wellness and well-being involve not only physical factors but also psychological ones.  

The findings have particular significance during the time of COVID-19 as we have seen an increase in the percentage of adults reporting symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorders during the pandemic.

FEATS IN HEARTBEATS  –  the moving analytics blog

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