"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

New findings further link mental health, stress and heart health

November 7, 2023 – Two latest studies show that folks with depression, anxiety or long-term stress are at higher risk of heart problems. The findings provide further evidence of the connection between mind and heart and show how poor brain health can pave the way in which for heart problems, the nation's leading reason for death.

In one in all the brand new studies, researchers found that folks diagnosed with depression or anxiety developed risk aspects for serious heart problems six months sooner than individuals who didn’t suffer from depression or anxiety. (Risk aspects included developing hypertension, type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.)

Overall, the people within the study Those who suffered from depression or anxiety had a 35% higher risk of a significant cardiovascular event resembling a heart attack or stroke. The faster development of health conditions resembling hypertension is because of the upper risk attributable to depression or anxiety and eventually resulting in heart or stroke events, the researchers said.

The Massachusetts General Hospital team evaluated 10-year health data from 71,262 adults whose average age was 49 years. In addition to studying the onset of high-risk diseases resembling type 2 diabetes and clear cardiovascular diagnoses, in addition they examined how a genetic trait known to make people vulnerable to emphasize affects heart health.

People with a genetic risk for stress developed their first risk factor for heart problems a mean of 1.5 years sooner than people with out a genetic predisposition to emphasize.

The study, together with a second separate project examining stress and heart health, will probably be presented this weekend on the American Heart Association's 2023 Scientific Sessions in Philadelphia.

The findings “suggest that depression and anxiety may cause brain changes that trigger downstream effects in the body, such as increased inflammation and fat deposition,” in accordance with a Research summary from the conference organizers.

The findings may lead to calls for more frequent screening of individuals with depression or anxiety to find out whether or not they have conditions resembling hypertension, high cholesterol and sort 2 diabetes, in order that the high-risk diseases could be detected and treated earlier.

Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and diseases that affect blood vessels, is the leading reason for death within the United States, killing greater than 800,000 people annually, in accordance with the federal Department of Health and Human Services Data shows. More than one in 10 adults within the U.S. have been diagnosed with heart disease.

In a second study, also presented on the conference, researchers found that cumulative stress affects brain and heart health. Higher levels of cumulative stress carry a 22% higher risk of a condition called atherosclerosis, during which plaque builds up within the arteries and reduces blood flow. Cumulative stress was also related to a 20% higher risk of heart problems, including coronary heart disease and heart failure.

High levels of cumulative stress were commonest in:

  • Women
  • People aged 18 to 45 who even have lower incomes and levels of education
  • Black and Hispanic people
  • People who’ve experienced racial or ethnic discrimination
  • People without medical insurance
  • People who had hypertension, were chubby, were physically inactive or smoked

The researchers said that stress directly affects physical health and in addition results in unhealthy lifestyle habits resembling smoking or lack of exercise, all of which result in higher health risks. The findings construct on previous findings in regards to the mind-heart connection, which have shown that stress hormones resembling cortisol can influence blood sugar levels, inflammation and other biological responses affecting the center.

Study participants accomplished questionnaires as a part of the Dallas Heart Study, and not one of the 2,685 participants had heart problems at first of the study. Responses to the questionnaire were used to acquire a numerical rating of what the researchers called “perceived stress.”

“There really is a connection between mind and heart. “Taking care of your mind can also impact your physical health,” lead writer of Cumulative Stress study Ijeoma Eleazu, MD, a cardiologist on the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, said in an announcement. “It would be great to see more patients talking to their doctors about their stress levels and more doctors seeing if their patients have high levels of stress. This way we can work together to combat poor outcomes.”