DALLAS, January 25, 2021 – Mental health can have positive or negative effects on a person’s health and risk factors for heart disease and stroke. This is reflected in the “Psychological Health, Wellbeing, and Mind, Heart, and Body Connections” Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association, published today in the association’s flagship magazine Circulation. The statement assesses the relationship between mental health and heart health and summarizes ways to improve the mental health of people with and at risk of heart disease.
“A person’s mind, heart, and body are all interconnected and interdependent in what can be referred to as a ‘mind-heart-body connection,'” said Glenn N. Levine, MD, FAHA, master clinician and professor of medicine of Baylor College of Medicine, director of cardiology at Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, and chairman of the Scientific Statement Writing Committee. “Research has clearly shown that negative psychological factors, personality traits and mental disorders can negatively impact cardiovascular health. On the other hand, studies have shown that positive psychological properties are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality.”
Negative mental illnesses include depression, chronic stress, anxiety, anger, pessimism, and dissatisfaction with current life. These conditions are associated with potentially deleterious biological responses, such as:
- Heart rate and rhythm irregularities;
- increased indigestion;
- increased blood pressure;
- Inflammation; and
- decreased blood flow to the heart.
Negative mental health is also linked to health behaviors that are associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, such as: B. Smoking, less physical activity, unhealthy diet, obesity and not taking medication as prescribed.
Based on evidence linking negative mental health to heart disease, the statement suggests regular mental health screening for people with or at risk of cardiovascular disease. The authors note that psychological therapy and mind-body programs can lead to better cardiovascular health. Mental health improvement programs include cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, collaborative care management approaches, stress reduction therapy, and meditation.
The statement highlights research showing that both the cumulative effects of everyday stressors and exposure to traumatic events can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Patients’ self-report of general stress, as well as work-related stress, has been linked to an increased risk of up to 40% for developing or dying from heart disease.
“Most mental health studies are observational, with many involving patient self-reporting, which poses challenges in creating specific cause-and-effect relationships,” said Levine. “However, the preponderance of such studies is very suggestive and allows reasonable conclusions to be drawn about an association between negative mental health and cardiovascular risk.”
On the other hand, studies have found positive mental health, which is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and death. Positive psychological health traits are happiness, optimism, gratitude, meaning, life satisfaction, and mindfulness. “The data are consistent, suggesting that positive psychological traits contribute to better cardiovascular health,” said Levine.
People with positive mental health were also more likely to have health determinants that were associated with a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease:
- low blood pressure;
- better glucose control;
- less inflammation; and
- lower cholesterol.
Positive mental health is also associated with positive health behaviors, such as smoking cessation, increased physical activity, a healthy heart diet, increased adherence to medication, and regular check-ups and health checks.
According to Levine, social factors can further affect cardiovascular health. People with better mental health tend to have positive social relationships, support, and connections, which can enable healthier adjustments to life’s challenges.
Levine adds, “Wellness is more than just the absence of disease. It is an active process aimed at living healthier, happier, and more fulfilling lives, and we must strive to reduce negative aspects of mental health and become more positive and positive Promote healthy condition In patients with or at risk of heart disease, health professionals need to consider the patient’s mental well-being in conjunction with the physical conditions affecting the body such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, chest pain, etc. “
This scientific statement was prepared by the volunteer writing group on behalf of the Council on Clinical Cardiology of the American Heart Association. the Council for Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology; the Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Care; and the Lifestyle and Metabolic Health Council.
Co-authors are Beth E. Cohen, MD, MAS; Yvonne Commodore-Mensah, Ph.D., MHS, RN; Julie Fleury, BSN, MS, Ph.D .; Jeff Huffman, MD; Mirza U. Khalid, MD; Darwin R. Labarthe, MD, MPH, Ph.D., FAHA; Helen Lavretsky, MD; Erin D. Michos, MD, MHS; Erica S. Spatz, MD, MHS; and Laura D. Kubzansky, Ph.D., MPH Author information is included in the manuscript.
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Via the American Heart Association
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