Depression, stress, loneliness, a positive (or negative) outlook on
life, and other psychosocial factors extend beyond affecting mood and
reach into the heart. How you think, feel, and behave can affect heart
disease for better or for worse, reports the June issue of the Harvard Heart Letter.
terms of their contribution to heart attacks, psychosocial factors are
on a par with smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, and cholesterol
problems. How do emotions, behaviors, or social situations promote
heart disease or make it worse? No one really knows, says the Harvard Heart Letter, which will be exploring the mind-heart connection in its next two issues as well. But there are plenty of theories.
hormones top the list. They constrict blood vessels, speed up the
heartbeat, and make the heart and blood vessels especially reactive to
further stress. Psychosocial factors have also been linked with factors
that signal increased inflammation, which plays an important role in
artery-clogging atherosclerosis. Psychosocial factors could also make
people more or less likely to pick up habits that tip them toward heart
disease or away from it.
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