Harvard Heart Letter

Two-way street between depression and heart disease

Lifting depression can help the heart and mind; exercise is essential.

When your cardiologist opens a visit with "How are you feeling?" the question usually refers to how your body is doing. But he or she should be asking about your moods and emotions, too. Your answer can offer an important glimpse into both your general and cardiovascular health.

Mind and body, once thought to be entirely separate entities, are really two halves of the same whole. Each profoundly influences the other. Depression and heart disease are a good example of this duality. People who are depressed are more likely to develop heart disease or have a heart attack than people who aren't depressed. And those who have had a heart attack or live with heart failure or another cardiovascular condition are more likely to fall into depression than healthier folks.

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