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Mental Health Issues and Heart Disease: A Deadly Combination

How are Mental Health and Heart Disease Related?


Heart diseases like stroke and high blood pressure put patients at risk of premature death. At the same time, psychiatric illnesses also negatively impact life span and quality. When someone suffers from both mental health issues and heart disease at the same time, their risk of death increases by over 100%.

Mental Illness and Heart Disease Conjointly Increase Risk of Death

Some scientists in Sweden set out to study over one million patients who have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, lung disease, and diabetes between 1932 and 1995. It was simply a matter of gathering stats.

Interestingy, they discovered that more than a quarter of the heart disease patients were also diagnosed with at least one mental illness. 7% of the one million patients died after being diagnosed, and 0.3% died from suicide.

Even more interesting was the fact that the death rate was far higher in those with both heart disease and a mental disorder (15.4%-21.1%) than those without (5.5%-9.1%.).

The researchers went further to examine the unaffected siblings of the patients to see if any risk factors related to their families were influencing the death rate. But it wasn't just about heredity. The comorbidity between mental health and heart disease results in a higher death rate, including death from suicide.

How Different Types of Psychiatric Disorders Affect the Risk of Death

The researchers discovered a higher risk of death with some mental health problems than in others. For example, risk of death was about 9 times higher in those with heart disease and substance abuse disorder, and about 6 times higher in those with heart disease and depression.

The Bottom Line

Even though we're not certain about the figures, one thing's for sure. People living with heart diseases or diabetes alongside any mental illness are at a higher risk of death.

And the bottom line is this: it would be helpful to examine patients with any heart disease if they also have psychiatric disorders. If they do, then follow-up mental health care with medication can help reduce the death rate and at least extend lives.

If you suffer from a cardiovascular disease and believe you also have a mental illness, please try and seek help immediately. Doing so can help you greatly increase your chances of living better for longer.

Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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