Covid-19 can lead to mental health problems; 'treat patient as a whole'

The Covid-19 global scene reinforced the view that physical diseases too are induced by problems of mind

Update: 2021-01-27 21:10 GMT
Anthony Banash receives a COVID-19 Pfizer vaccination at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center on January 21, 2021 in Torrance, California. Banash was the first patient to receive the vaccine at the hospital. (Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP)

Hyderabad: Mental health issues due to the Covid-19 crisis saw a major spike since last year and this will impact cardiovascular health and result in more cases of heart diseases and strokes.

The Covid-19 global scene reinforced the view that physical diseases too are induced by problems of mind. In a statement, the American Heart Association has advised cardiologists to look not only at heart ailments in their physical form but also in terms of the psychological problems that the pandemic could induce. "Treat a patient as a whole," the AHA has advised.

Depression, chronic stress, anxiety, anger, pessimism, and dissatisfaction about one's life are all associated with potentially harmful biological responses. Prolonged feelings of depression and anxiety can lead to irregular heart-rates and rhythm. Some of the affected have complained of stomach ache, ulcers and lack of interest in food.

The stress incurred in the form of job loss, financial stress, loss of family members due to the pandemic, all can lead to mental illness and this can also cause blood pressure, inflammation and reduced blood flow to the heart.

During the pandemic, those who come to doctors with problems of the heart have to be closely examined. It is important to not only understand their physical lifestyle -- too much sitting, alcohol intake, smoking and dangerous food habits, but also their psychological stress.

Says Dr K.K. Aggarwal, senior cardiologist: “A look at psychological health, its well-being and mind-heart-body connection clearly show that mental health can positively or negatively impact health and (add to) risk factors for heart disease and stroke.”

Earlier, depression was a serious concern, but now other stressors have been added as the pandemic has induced a compromised state of coping-ability for many people.

Dr Sai Ravi Shanker, senior consultant cardiologist at SLG Hospital, said, “We have to no longer focus only on coronary, myocardial, valvular or electrophysiological pathology but also try and improve mental, emotional, psychological and overall well-being of those we care for.”

Negative psychological states and processes of the mind adversely affect our heart's health. There is new evidence linking depression and cardiac mortality. For this reason, numerous mind-body interventions for one's well-being like medication, mindfulness, stress management and cognitive behaviour therapy are important.


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