How can mental health conditions affect heart health?

Ashesh B. Parikh, DO
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
When your stress levels are higher, it raises endorphin levels and the stress hormone, cortisol. Elevated cortisol is directly linked to increased blood pressure, and down the line that can affect your heart health. It can even cause issues with overall heart function and contribute to congestive heart failure, if uncontrolled. 
Mental and physical health go hand in hand. People with mental health conditions have higher rates of the following health conditions that can affect the heart:
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Problems caused by smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
The conditions listed above increase your risk of heart problems, cardiovascular disease, or strokes later in life.

For a limited number of patients, some types of medications prescribed for mental health conditions can increase the long-term risk of weight gain, high cholesterol, or high blood sugar. It's important to know your own risk factors before treatment so you can make a balanced decision as to the benefits and risks of taking these medications long term.

Managing your risk factors is vital to your heart health. Your mental health provider can help you assess your risk factors and learn ways to manage them to prevent heart disease.
Some mental health conditions can affect heart health. Depression is very common in patients with heart problems, and the evidence suggests that these patients tend to do worse. Mood can affect the heart and cardiovascular system by putting the body into a state of high alert, thereby increasing blood pressure and heart rate, increasing the work of the heart. It is very important that depression is addressed and treated in patients with heart disease.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.