There is mounting evidence to suggest that mental health affects not only our minds and moods, but also our overall health and well-being. One area in particular that we have seen psychiatric conditions wreak havoc the cardiovascular system.
In the past, we have seen how depression and anxiety can negatively affect blood pressure and heart rate, but this latest analysis from Observational Study to Predict Readmission for Heart Failure Patients (OPERA-HF) clearly shows that moderate to severe depression significantly increases mortality rate in patients who suffer from congestive heart failure.
The death rate is independent of any comorbidity that those patients may have -- in other words for cardiovascular patients, depression equals death. In analyzing the rates of obesity, diabetes, substance abuse and chronic pain, you will find that a good portion of those patient populations also suffer from depression and anxiety. This is why it amazes me that for decades now, the medical profession, the health insurance industry and government health services have abandoned programs meant to improve mental health. It remains puzzling to me that while there is plenty of research published on the pathophysiology of brain chemistry, access to mental health services remains deficient. In many communities, it's even completely absent.
This particular study focused on 154 patients hospitalized for heart failure. They completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale questionnaire and it was determined 103 patients were not depressed, 27 had mild depression and 24 had moderate to severe depression. In a 302-day period, a total of 27 of the patients died.
The researchers found that those who reported moderate to severe depression had five times the risk of all-cause mortality compared with other patients. Patients with no depression had an 80 percent lower risk of death.
The saying "The heart and mind are one," has never been truer. I hope that this study serves as another wakeup call to the medical community that the mind deserves more attention than we are giving it. We must act to protect our mind, which serves as the protector for the rest of our body.
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Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.