Mental health is important to overall health, and heart disease prevention and treatment

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Psychological health can positively or negatively impact a person’s health and risk factors for heart disease and stroke

A person’s mind, heart and body are all interconnected and interdependent in what can be termed ‘the mind-heart-body-connection. Research has clearly demonstrated that negative psychological factors, personality traits and mental health disorders can negatively impact cardiovascular health. On the other hand, studies have found positive psychological attributes are associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality.

Negative psychological health conditions include depression, chronic stress, anxiety, anger, pessimism and dissatisfaction with one’s current life. These conditions are associated with potentially harmful biological responses, such as:

  • irregularities of heart rate and rhythm;
  • increased digestive complaints;
  • increased blood pressure;
  • inflammation; and
  • reduced blood flow to the heart.

Negative psychological health is also associated with health behaviors that are linked to an increased risk for heart disease and stroke, such as smoking, lower levels of physical activity, unhealthy diet, being overweight and not taking medications as prescribed.

Due to evidence that connects negative psychological health to heart disease, the statement suggests regular mental health screening for people with or at risk for cardiovascular disease.

Studies have found positive psychological health associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and death. Positive psychological health characteristics include happiness, optimism, gratitude, sense of purpose, life satisfaction and mindfulness. The data is consistent, suggesting that positive psychological traits play a part in better cardiovascular health.

People with positive psychological health were also more likely to have health factors linked to a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease:

  • lower blood pressure;
  • better glucose control;
  • less inflammation; and
  • lower cholesterol.

Positive psychological health is also associated with beneficial health behaviors such as smoking cessation, increased physical activity, heart-healthy eating, increased medication adherence and regular check-ups and health screenings.

“Wellness is more than simply the absence of disease. We have to actively pursue a healthier, happier and more fulfilling life, and strive to reduce negative aspects of psychological health and promote an overall positive and healthy state of being. In patients with or at risk for heart disease, health care professionals should address the mental wellness of the patient in tandem with the physical conditions affecting the body, such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, chest pain, etc.” said Dr. Ross Thurmond, interventional cardiologist with Baptist Heart.

For information on services and screenings offered at Baptist Heart, visit or call 601-968-1966.

Source: American Heart Association

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