We have long understood the complex interactions between our physical health and mental well-being in the world of healthcare. It should come as no surprise that our emotional state can affect how our heart works. As a cardiologist, I feel obligated to explore the interesting connection between our emotions and cardiovascular health. The importance of this relationship cannot be overemphasized, especially in light of the negative effects that noncommunicable disorders, including coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, have on overall health.
The power of positive emotions
Research has shed light on the significant role that emotions play in our overall health. Over the decades, studies have shown that positive emotions are associated with higher survival rates. In addition, a positive emotional state strengthens the body’s immune system, making it more resistant to common diseases. Moreover, a positive emotional outlook can reduce the risk of developing diabetes and hypertension.
Conversely, negative emotions such as stress, anxiety, depression, and hostility are closely associated with a higher risk of coronary artery disease and other noncommunicable diseases. These emotions put unnecessary strain on our hearts and bodies, which is why it’s crucial to manage them effectively.
Heart & mind
A symbiotic relationship: positive emotions have been shown to have predictive value in assessing one’s cardiovascular health. The effects of these emotions are visible in the body’s parasympathetic response and heart rate. When we experience positive emotions, they promote stable blood pressure, systolic and diastolic, and help regulate the level of noradrenaline in the body. These factors play a key role in protecting the heart from disease, in addition to other potential mechanisms, such as promoting good sleep habits and the ability to stop harmful habits such as smoking.
The three pillars of heart health
A multi-pronged approach is key to maintaining emotional well-being and promoting a healthy heart. The basis of this approach consists of three key elements: nutrition, physical activity and hydration.
First of all, we must eat a balanced diet. A diet rich in essential nutrients, including fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains, is key. This not only fuels our bodies, but also positively affects our emotional well-being.
Regular physical activity is another cornerstone of a healthy heart. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. Physical activity not only improves your cardiovascular health, but also has a profound effect on your emotional state by releasing endorphins and reducing stress.
Hydration is often underestimated, but it should not be neglected. Adequate water intake is essential for optimal bodily function, ensuring that our cells and organs are properly nourished and functioning at their best.
Our social life also has a profound effect on our emotional well-being and heart health. It’s not just about adhering to good social values, but also about nurturing meaningful relationships with family and friends. Building a strong social support system provides a safe space for self-expression and emotional well-being. These positive connections play a vital role in protecting against cardiovascular disease. By fostering these connections, we fortify ourselves against the emotional burdens that can harm our heart.
The connection between emotional well-being and heart health is undeniable. Cultivating positive emotions, maintaining a balanced lifestyle and nurturing meaningful social connections are not only steps towards better emotional health; these are key measures to protect our hearts from the devastating impact of cardiovascular disease. On our journey to well-being, we must remember that a healthy heart goes hand in hand with a joyful spirit.
(Dr. Jagjeet Deshmukh, Cardiologist, Sahyadri Super Specialty Hospital, Hadapsar, Pune)
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Published: Sunday, November 12, 2023, 10:17 AM IST