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Does your mental health affect your cardiovascular health?

By Veita Bland, M.D. / June 2, 2023

Recent studies seem to imply that cardiovascular disease can contribute to depression and depression can contribute to cardiovascular disease.

Life sometimes can be a combination of interactions. There is no doubt that your cardiovascular health is improved with physical activity. I am sure your healthcare provider emphasizes this fact with each visit. Physical activity is important and can be adapted based on one’s abilities. Few people can escape the need for physical activity. Researchers are delving further into the idea that one’s mental health and one’s cardiovascular health go hand in hand.

Specifically, British researchers recently analyzed how depression affects one’s cardiovascular health. While both depression and cardiovascular disease are widespread illnesses, the British study hypothesized that cardiovascular disease contributes to depression and that depression contributes to cardiovascular disease. They determined that both illnesses can be causal and occur concurrently.

This large study across the pond determined that there is a connection between mental health and cardiovascular health. The study, like many others in the U.S., determined depression can encourage inflammation in the body by triggering a consistent release of cortisol (a stress hormone). Successfully treating one’s depression would likely decrease inflammation, which negatively affects blood vessels and other organs.

Researchers found that people who managed their depression with psychotherapy had a 15 percent decrease in having a cardiovascular event.

British researchers also determined that cardiovascular disease is 72 percent higher in people who have been diagnosed with major depression. Patients in this study were followed for up to seven years with a mean follow up time of three years. One result of the study found that mental health treatment such as psychotherapy helped reduce one’s risk for cardiovascular disease and thus decreased the risk of having a stroke. The scientists also saw that a reduction in depression and in cardiovascular events occurred when patients engaged or increased their physical activity.

It’s no secret that recent and continuous experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic have awakened our need for mental health services. Such services are vital to the mind, the body and the spirit. It is important that people have a mental health check-up. Such an exam will save lives.

The bottom line here is to take care of your total body. Good health includes mental health. If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health challenges, encourage them to seek a healthcare provider, who may counsel and impart expert advice.

Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at


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Since 1967, the Carolina Peacemaker has served as North Carolina’s leading news weekly with a national reputation. Founded by Dr. John Kilimanjaro, the newspaper is published by Carolina Newspaper, Inc.

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