In a new study, scientists at University College London wanted to learn more about how mental health and physical health are connected.
They knew that people who suffer from depression have a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, but they wanted to know if there was anything that could be done to lower this risk.
The scientists studied whether reducing depression symptoms through psychological therapy could lower the risk of future cardiovascular disease.
They looked at over 636,000 adults over 45 years old with depression who had completed a course of psychological therapy and did not have cardiovascular disease or dementia.
The average age was 55 years and 66% were women.
The scientists found that people whose depression symptoms improved after therapy had a 10% to 15% lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those who did not improve.
This is similar to the effects found in studies investigating low-fat diets.
The study was the first to investigate whether reducing depression symptoms with psychological therapy is associated with a lower likelihood of future cardiovascular disease.
The study also found that the effects were stronger in people aged 45 to 60 years old, who had a 15% fall in the risk of cardiovascular disease compared to no improvement.
In addition, people aged 45 to 60 years old with improved depression had a 22% decreased likelihood of death during follow-up compared to those not improving.
The scientists noted that the results do not definitively prove that reductions in cardiovascular disease were caused by relief of depression.
Data were also missing on lifestyle behaviors such as smoking and inactivity which could raise susceptibility to cardiovascular disease and limit the effect of psychological treatment.
The scientists emphasized the importance of making psychological treatments more widely available and accessible to enhance mental and physical health.
Collaborative care systems where specialists from both disciplines work together could be one way to make treatment more accessible and obtain better outcomes overall.
By taking care of our mental health, we can also take care of our physical health. Seeking help early for depression symptoms could lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially for people aged under 60.
It’s important to remember that our mental and physical health are connected, and by improving one, we can improve the other.
How to prevent heart disease
Preventing heart disease involves making healthy choices in your everyday life. Here are some tips for reducing your risk of heart disease:
Eat a healthy diet. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can help lower your risk of heart disease. Try to limit your intake of processed foods, saturated fats, and added sugars.
Exercise regularly. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. Exercise can help improve heart health and lower your risk of heart disease.
Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of heart disease. Aim to maintain a healthy weight through a combination of healthy eating and regular exercise.
Don’t smoke. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. If you smoke, quitting can significantly lower your risk.
Limit alcohol intake. Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of heart disease. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation.
Manage stress. Chronic stress can have a negative impact on heart health. Practice stress-reducing techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga, to help manage stress.
Get enough sleep. Sleep is important for heart health. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
Control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. High blood pressure and high cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease. Talk to your doctor about monitoring and managing these levels.
By following these steps, you can help reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your overall health and well-being. It’s never too early or too late to start making healthy choices, so start today!
If you care about heart disease, please read studies about chronic itch linked to heart disease, and drinking coffee this way may prevent heart disease and stroke.
For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about how magnesium helps protect your heart rhythm, and results showing the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease.
The study was conducted by Joshua Stott et al and published in European Heart Journal.
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