(Family Features) Research shows anxiety, stress and depression can have a negative impact on physical health and may even increase the risk for heart disease and stroke.
In fact, the American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health, identified a strong interconnection between the mind, heart and body in its scientific statement, “Psychological Health, Well-Being and the Mind-Heart-Body Connection.”
“Research has clearly demonstrated negative psychological factors, personality traits and mental health disorders can negatively impact cardiovascular health,” said volunteer chair of the statement writing committee Glenn N. Levine, M.D., FAHA, master clinician and professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and chief of the cardiology section at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. “The body’s biological reaction to stress, anxiety and other types of poor mental health can manifest physically through an irregular heart rate or rhythm, increased blood pressure and inflammation throughout the body. Negative psychological health is also associated with health behaviors that are linked to an increased risk for heart disease and stroke, such as smoking, lower levels of physical activity, unhealthy diet, being overweight and not taking medications as prescribed.”
Studies have found some people, including people of color, may face a greater risk of poor health outcomes due to chronic stress, depression and anxiety linked to psychosocial stressors, particularly those related to social and economic inequality, discrimination, systemic racism and other societal factors. A study published in the “Journal of the American Heart Association” found U.S. adults who reported feeling highly discriminated against at work had an increased risk of developing high blood pressure compared to those who reported low discrimination at work.
“Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being,” Levine said. “It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Practicing mindfulness in all forms allows one to be more aware of and have more control over emotional responses to the experiences of daily life.”
Consider these tips from Levine to improve your mind-heart-body connection:
“Wellness is more than simply the absence of disease,” Levine said. “It is an active process directed toward a healthier, happier and more fulfilling life. When we strive to reduce negative aspects of psychological health, we are promoting an overall positive and healthy state of being.”
Learn more about the importance of heart health at heart.org.
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