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The link between heart disease and depression

Heart disease and depression are both serious health conditions and they often go hand-in-hand. The causal link is hard to pinpoint, but numbers show that those who suffer from depression are more apt to suffer from heart disease and vice versa.

Suffering a heart attack or experiencing heart failure can be a catastrophic event leading to permanent debilitation, both emotionally and physically. This can be especially challenging for some patients.

“Some of my patients are used to being leaders and often are head of a household, so when a catastrophic cardiac event occurs, it can leave them feeling helpless. A change like this can lead to depressive behaviors, such as lack of motivation, resulting in non-compliance with dietary restrictions, medication regimens, and attending much-needed cardiac rehab sessions,” says Tara Hrobowski, M.D., a heart failure and transplant cardiologist at Piedmont Heart.

Rising teen statistics

Dr. Hrobowski also points out that heart disease is on the rise among teens and young adults because of negative lifestyle habits that are being established earlier in life. For example, when a child is bullied at school or there are difficult family dynamics in the home, this can lead to withdrawn behavior and poor lifestyle choices.

Negative behaviors that lead to increased risk of heart disease, depression, and other long-lasting health problems include:

Prevention

While it is difficult to identify which comes first, heart disease or depression, Dr. Hrobowski believes prevention starts with instilling healthy lifestyle choices. While you cannot modify your genetics, you can make a conscious decision to limit sodium intake, avoid fast food, exercise more, and stop smoking.

She recommends parents engage in physical activity with their children. Not only can families build bonds by spending quality time together, but they can make exercise a part of a daily routine for the entire family.

“The principles and lifestyle choices you model as a parent will rub off on your children and many of them will continue to make these choices in adulthood. This goes for eating, exercising, social habits and more,” says Dr. Hrobowski.

Seek help

Dr. Hrobowski recommends talking with your primary care physician, cardiologist or a counselor about your emotional health. She highly recommends cardiac rehab for those that have suffered a cardiac event. Cardiac rehab can be a monumental turning point for many patients, both physically and mentally, as it gives them the chance to see others recover, too.

“You cannot put a price tag on recovering your mind from a life-changing event of any kind,” she says. “Mental healing is just as important as physical healing.”

Take control

Dr. Hrobowski challenges patients to take control of modifiable risk factors. She provides patients with valuable tools, but ultimately it is up to them to put the tools to daily use.

Book an appointment with a Piedmont cardiologist today.

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