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Moods can play a major role in your heart health, researchers say

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Dallas — Your moods – good and bad – can have an impact on your health, according to the American Heart Association.

After a review of current study data, AHA researchers recently published a scientific statement noting that negative psychological factors and personality traits – as well as mental health disorders – can contribute to cardiovascular disease, while positive factors and traits can improve heart health.

Negative impacts on cardiovascular health include chronic stress, social stressors, anger, hostility, anxiety, depression and pessimism. Positive impacts can be found from optimism, happiness, sense of purpose, mindfulness, gratitude and resilience.

According to Erin Michos, one of the statement’s authors and director of Women’s Cardiovascular Health at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, emotions can affect heart health for many reasons.

In an article posted on the AHA website, Michos said strong negative feelings affect the portion of the brain that handles emotion, called the amygdala. It activates the body’s “fight or flight” response, thus releasing the hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which causes a rise in blood pressure and a faster heartbeat.

“This can be stressful on the heart,” Michos said, “particularly for people who have underlying heart conditions.”

 

Effective mental coping skills and positive feelings reduce the amount of cortisol in the body, according to AHA.

The researchers say cardiologists who care for patients with mental health issues can make appropriate referrals to mental health providers or prescribe exercise, meditation, or other self-care to provide cardiovascular and mental health benefits.

The scientific statement was published online Jan. 25 in the AHA journal Circulation.

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