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Mild heart problems can increase anxiety and lead to a negative outlook on life

02-24-17 Category: Anxiety, Depression rehab

Mild heart problems can increase anxiety and lead to a negative outlook on life

A study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes found that individuals with mild heart conditions report feeling in poorer health, having heightened feelings of anxiety and having a poorer outlook on life than the general population.

More than 500 individuals with mild heart disease and 1,300 without heart trouble were involved in the study. Study subjects were between 52 and 70. The study did not establish any cause-and-effect relationship between poor heart health and mental illness. But based on the questionnaires each subject filled out, the individuals with heart ailments replied that they were ill often. They also responded that they felt anxious, experienced negative emotions and were generally socially inhibited. These results differed significantly from those collected from the 1,300 subjects with no heart ailments.

A question of perception

The study’s lead author, Paula Mommersteeg, Ph.D., assistant professor of medical and clinical psychology at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, notes that individuals with heart conditions, while experiencing genuine health issues, may also allow the perception of their poor health to shape their feelings.

The study also that found these feelings were more prominent in women than in men – a development the researchers had not anticipated. “We were very intrigued by these sex and gender differences – we had not thought they would be so apparent,” says Dr. Mommersteeg in an American Heart Association news release.

Ashish Bhatt, M.D., Sovereign Health’s Chief Medical Officer, says both results are not all that surprising. “In the medical community, we know when an individual has a heart condition, this knowledge has the capacity to alter that individual’s perspective,” says Dr. Bhatt. “Most of us are unaware of our heart beating; it just does. When a person is keenly aware something is wrong with a major organ, this can lead to distress, which leads to anxiety and other mental issues.” Bhatt adds that, generally, women have a higher prevalence of anxiety and depressive disorders than do men, despite the fact that men have higher rates of heart disease.

Sovereign Health specializes in treating anxiety and depressive disorders. One of the most effective treatment modalities we use is neurofeedback. This treatment analyzes brain wave stimuli. This feedback is adjusted to change a patient’s reactions to triggers. For an individual who has anxiety or depressive disorders, resetting learned responses is an ideal way to provide a clearer perspective on the individual’s reality. This is especially beneficial for someone whose behavioral health issues stem from a physical ailment, such as heart disease. Contact our 24/7 helpline for more information.

About the author

Darren Fraser is a content writer for Sovereign Health. He worked over two years as a reporter and researcher for The Yomiuri Shimbun until they realized he did not read, speak or write Japanese and fired him. Undeterred, he channels his love of research into unearthing stories that provide hope to those dealing with addiction and mental illness. Darren loves the Montreal Canadiens hockey club and horror films and would prefer to enjoy these from the comforts of his family’s farm in Quebec. For more information about this media, contact the author at


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