The mind-heart connection: Maintain psychological wellbeing and heart health

While thinking about your valentine may set your heart aflutter, negative psychological factors such as stress or depressive disorders can have a long-term impact on overall cardiovascular health.

In fact, a number of research studies suggest that cultivating a healthy mind can improve heart health and lower risk of cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States.

Dr. Glenn Levine, a cardiologist at Baylor College of Medicine, discusses what you should know about psychological wellbeing and heart health in the Q&A below.

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Q: What is the connection between the mind and the heart?
A: Research shows that cardiovascular conditions can lead to negative psychological states such as depression. Negative psychological states can also increase the risk for cardiovascular disease and adverse prognosis. There are good associations between positive psychological health and decreased cardiovascular disease risk.

Q: What impact can psychological conditions have on cardiovascular health?
A: Conditions such as depression or anxiety disorder can lead to poorer medical compliance. They may also have indirect effects on blood pressure, inflammation, and atherosclerosis, a disease of the arteries that can lead to coronary heart disease.

Q: Does stress play a role?
A: There are clear links between stress and greater cardiovascular risk. Intense psychological distress is also associated with acute coronary syndrome.

Q: What are some ways to maintain a healthy mind-heart relationship?
A: There are numerous ways to decrease negative psychological health and increase positive psychological health. Meditation is one. Yoga is also a good mind-body practice. Overall, mindfulness is a promising intervention. There is modest but increasing data that these interventions can lead to a better cardiovascular prognosis.

Dr. Levine is a professor of medicine-cardiology at Baylor. Learn more Cardiovascular Medicine services at Baylor or call (713) 798-1000.

Additional Resources

Practicing mindfulness anytime, anywhere

Take charge of your heart health today: Follow these eight tips

-By Nicole Blanton