Mental illness not only affects the mind, but also the heart, study finds
Poor mental health also impacts human physical health, causing problems related to variations in blood pressure and heart rate, cardiovascular disease, and even organ failure.
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That’s according to a new study by researchers from the University of South Australia, University of Malaya, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, which looked at 12 studies looking at anxiety, depression, panic disorders, etc. with age, mental illness is very closely linked to greater variations in blood pressure throughout the day.
The researchers also found that for those with mental illness, their heart rate does not adjust to external stressors as expected.
The researchers point out that contrary to belief, a healthy heart is not one that beats at the same rate all the time, rather it is one that adapts according to environmental and psychological challenges..
A reduced variation in heart rate was commonly seen in people with mental illness and indicated that the body’s response to stress was poor, compounding the negative effects of chronic stress..
Also, while blood pressure variations during the day aren’t ideal, systolic pressure at night should drop by about 10-20% to allow the heart to rest. However, researchers have found that people with mental health issues do not see this drop at night.
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The reduction in dip, which may be less than ten percent, could be due to several factors, including poor sleep quality, disturbed circadian rhythms, etc.
Dr. Renly Lim, one of the study’s lead researchers, explains: “The takeaway from this study is that we need to pay more attention to the physical impacts of mental illness. This is a major global burden, affecting between 11 and 18% (one billion) of people worldwide.As mental illness can contribute to the deterioration of heart and blood pressure regulation, early therapeutic intervention is essential.â
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