Is there a link between mental health and heart health? Does our mental health actually cause heart problems? Keep reading to find out the latest conclusions.
The Effects Of Stress On Our Heart
There is no shortage of stress in today’s world. We all feel it and deal with it in different ways. How we react to stress can lead to any number of health problems from hypertension to ulcers or IBS.
There is no conclusive evidence to date that stress directly impacts our heart health, but we can certainly see some correlation between the two. Stress can initiate and exacerbate certain behaviors like excessive drinking, smoking or unhealthy eating habits which in turn affect our heart health.
In addition, stress increases hormones in our body like adrenaline and cortisol which affect blood pressure and heart rate.
Until recently most researchers thought these behavioral changes were the only link, but now there is a realization that when stress is constant or chronic, there are physiological connections. These biological and chemical factors that affect mental health could also influence heart disease.
Depression And Heart Health
Chronic depression, stress, and PTSD physiologically increases heart rate and blood pressure. “Over time the physiologic effects lead to calcium buildup in the arteries, metabolic disease, and heart disease”, according to the CDC.
Evidence also shows that mental health disorders like depression and stress can develop after cardiac events like stroke, heart failure, or heart attack.
Those Most Affected
There are higher rates of heart disease as a result of pre-existing mental health disorders among certain members of our population.
They include the following:
- Veterans have a higher risk of heart disease from PTSD and combat
- Women are more likely to be at risk for coronary heart disease from depression and PTSD.
- Couples who have one person with depression or PTSD are more likely to have coronary heart disease due to physiological stress and anger responses.
- Racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to have coronary heart disease due to depression and stress from childhood experiences, racial discrimination, and a generally higher risk for high blood pressure.
What You Can Do
Talk with New Jersey Cardiology Associates about potential heart conditions in relation to your own mental health and treatment options.
Be aware of your family history and any genetic risk factors for heart disease. And, of course, maintain a healthy diet and get sufficient exercise.