Diabetes Complications

Negative psychological health can increase heart disease risk

Psychological health directly impacts the rest of the body’s health, researchers have said.

According to a new scientific statement by the American Heart Association Scientific Statement, mental health issues and matters of the mind can have a direct influence on the heart and the risk of stroke.

Dr Glenn Levine, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas and chair of the statement committee, said: “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.”

Those who worked on the statement are recommending that carrying out regular mental health screenings and psychological therapies that people would have a better chance at improving their cardiovascular health.

The statement reviewed studies which have shown that a build-up of daily stress or exposure to traumatic events can impact someone’s overall health and increase their risk of developing heart disease and stroke.

Dr Levine added: “Most studies of psychological health are observational, with many involving self-reporting from patients, which presents challenges to establishing specific cause and effect relationships.

“However, a preponderance of such studies is highly suggestive and allows one to make reasonable conclusions about an association between negative psychological health and cardiovascular risk.”

Other research papers have shown it works both ways and positive characteristics, such as happiness, optimism, gratitude and mindfulness can help improve the health.

Dr Levine added: “The data is consistent, suggesting that positive psychological traits play a part in better cardiovascular health.

“Wellness is more than simply the absence of disease. It is an active process directed toward a healthier, happier and more fulfilling life, and we must 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 need to 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.”

The statement has been published in the journal Circulation.

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