According to the American Heart Association, psychological health can positively or negatively affect a person’s health and risk factors for heart disease and stroke
DALLAS, May 5, 2023 — Anxiety, stress and depression can have a negative effect on your physical health and may even increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, according to research published in the 2021 Scientific Statement. Psychological health, well-being and the connection of mind, heart and body, from the American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all. These findings identified a strong connection between mind, heart and body.
“Research has clearly shown that negative psychological factors, personality traits and mental health disorders can negatively affect cardiovascular health. The body’s biological response to stress, anxiety and other types of poor mental health can manifest physically through an irregular heartbeat or rhythm, increased blood pressure and inflammation throughout the body,” said Michelle A. Albert, American Heart Association 2022 volunteer president- 23. , MD, MPH, FAHA, who has studied the impact of stress on cardiovascular health throughout her research career. “Negative psychological health is also associated with health behaviors that are associated with increased risk of heart disease and stroke, such as smoking, lower levels of physical activity, unhealthy diets, being overweight and not taking prescribed medications. All this seriously affects the cardiovascular system of the body.”
Studies have found that some people, including people of color, may face a greater risk of poor health outcomes due to chronic stress, depression, and anxiety associated with psychosocial stressors, particularly those related to social and economic inequality, discrimination, systemic racism, and other social problems factors. Recently a study published in magazine for American Heart Association found that US adults who reported feeling strongly discriminated against at work had an increased risk of developing high blood pressure than those who reported mild discrimination at work.
Albert said that recognizing and dealing with negative psychological feelings is important for everyone. Practicing mindfulness-based interventions, such as meditation or cognitive behavioral therapy, can help reduce anxiety, perceived stress and depression and have a positive effect on cardiovascular disease and risk. Positive psychological health is also associated with beneficial health behaviors such as smoking cessation, increased physical activity, a heart-healthy diet, increased medication adherence, and regular checkups and health screenings. People with better mental health tend to have positive social relationships, support and connections, which can facilitate a healthier adjustment to life’s challenges.
“Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we deal with stress, relate to others, and make decisions,” said Albert, who is the Walter A Haas-Lucie Stern Endowed Chair and Professor of Medicine, director of the Center for the Study of AdverSiTy and Cardiovascular Disease (NURTURE Center ) and Associate Dean of Admissions at the University of California, San Francisco. “Practicing mindfulness in all its forms allows a person to be more aware of and in control of their emotional responses to the experiences of everyday life.”
HAVE study presented at the 2022 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions found that adults with high blood pressure who participated in a mindfulness behavior program for eight weeks had significantly lower blood pressure levels and significantly reduced sitting time when assessed at a six-month follow-up. Research from China published in the Association Stroke the newspaper found that three months of practicing a modified form of Tai Chi in stroke survivors improved hand and arm function, sitting balance, mental health and quality of life compared to stroke survivors who participated in a standard exercise rehabilitation program after a stroke.
Here are some tips that Albert recommends for improving the mind-heart-body connection:
- Praxis meditation regularly. Although there are many types of meditation, even something as simple as communing with nature or sitting still and focusing on your breath can have a positive effect.
- Get a lot of good, rested sleep. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep for good health, but 1 in 3 people don’t get enough sleep. Set a regular bedtime and wake-up routine and turn off or dim electronic screens as bedtime approaches.
- To make connections and stay in touch: Regularly contact and connect with family and friends or engage in activities to meet new people. Research shows that social isolation and loneliness can have a negative impact on your physical and mental health.
- Praxis conscious movement: There are many types of yoga and tai chi that can ease your soul and muscles. These mindful practices can be gentle and can be done by almost anyone, anywhere, without the need for special equipment.
- Spend time with you furry BFF: Companion animals are beloved members of the family and research shows that pets can help reduce physiological responses to stress as well as support improved physical activity.
- Solve it with practice: Regular physical activity—the recommended 150 minutes of moderate activity, 75 minutes of vigorous activity, or a combination of both per week—can relieve tension, anxiety and depression and give you an instant “high” from exercise.
“Good health is more than the simple absence of disease. It is an active process aimed at a healthier, happier and more fulfilling life,” said Albert. “When we strive to reduce the negative aspects of psychological health, we promote an overall positive and healthy state.”
Learn more about the importance of heart health at srce.org.
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