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The Relation Between Heart Disease and Mental Health

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Heart disease and mental illness are among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in Australia and around the world.

We all know the importance of heart health and how to boost a strong cardiovascular system, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and quitting poor smoking habits. However, it might come as a surprise that a person’s mental state can also impact cardiac function.

Previous research suggests the link between heart disease and mental illness, and some may even indicate that both may cause one another. However, the precise nature of their relation to each other has not yet been established.

Here, we explore the connection between heart disease and mental health.


How Does Mental Health Affect the Heart

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death for both men and women in Australia. On the other hand, mental illness is a wide cause of disability, with 4.8 million Australians living with mental health conditions.

Research suggests that mental illness should be recognised as a risk factor for heart diseases like other chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Health experts are spending more time looking at the relationship between heart disease and mental health. Some may suggest that it is a “two-way street” where people suffering from depression have a higher risk of cardiac arrest, and those with heart conditions experience a higher risk of mental illness.

Here are a few of the heart-brain correlations:

  • Stress can increase the cortisone levels in the brain, leading to arrhythmia, high blood pressure, and heart damage.
  • People who are smokers are more likely to suffer from mental issues than non-smokers. Smoking is also proven to have a detrimental effect on the heart condition.
  • Nearly 40% of people with existing heart conditions exhibit signs of mental illness.

With cardiac disease being one of the leading causes of death and mental problems spiking due to COVID-10, it is vital to have physical and mental wellness in check.

For anyone experiencing symptoms of heart disease, mental illness, or both, it is essential to get the right help and knowledge about the condition. It is also important to employ a few techniques that can help prevent and reduce the risk.


Overlapping Symptoms

Mental illness and cardiovascular disease have overlapping symptoms such as low energy, fatigue, and sleeping difficulty. It is important to observe warning signs and be attentive to the body to recognise what is abnormal for you.


4 Tips for Combatting Heart Disease and Mental Problems

While evidence suggests between the two, the good news is there are many solutions to help manage both. Here are four healthy lifestyle practices to help you take charge of your health.


Eat a Balanced Diet

What we put into the plate plays a huge factor in the overall well-being. Having healthy eating habits and incorporating smart food choices such as whole grains and lean protein can help reduce the chances of heart disease.

Surprisingly, the same food types are also known to help lessen symptoms of depression and anxiety.


Cut Down on Alcohol

While drinking a glass or two is not always bad, this practice can be bad news for people suffering from mental health conditions.

Alcohol is considered a depressant, which can exacerbate the feeling of hopelessness and trigger anxiety.

Excessive drinking can also interfere with keeping blood sugar at bay, increases blood pressure and is also known to contribute to cardiomyopathy (thickening of the heart muscle).


Manage Stress Levels

Stress levels can be on the rise with the changes the COVID-19 pandemic brought to our lives.

Chronic stress can result in several mental and physical health problems, including headaches, chest pain, sleeping problems, anxiety, etc. All of these can negatively impact a person’s heart health and mental well-being.

Learning stress management techniques and self-care practices can help.


Engage in an Exercise Routine

Routine exercises can bring benefits to both the body and mind. It helps improve heart health, resulting in well-managed blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Staying active also boosts serotonin levels, which help enhance “happy” moods. Even mild to moderate exercises can have a profound effect on mental health issues.

One study suggests that a few minutes of walking in a day can help reduce the risk of major depression by 26%.


Book a Course with First Aid Brisbane                

First Aid Pro Brisbane understands the effect of mental illness and heart disease.

We provide both Provide First Aid Course (HLTAID001) and Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) which help address both physical and mental emergencies. Taking both courses also helps recognise warning signs and prevent the development of further complications.

Contact us to schedule an in-person or zoom first aid course today.

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