Mental health conditions may affect blood pressure, heart rate
A new study has found that people with mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety may be more prone to experience cardiovascular problems.
Researchers behind this systematic review, published in the journal BioMedical Engineering, observed that mental health conditions may have an impact on autonomic functions, which may cause blood pressure to widely fluctuate.
“We know that people with mental health problems have [an] increased risk of cardiovascular events and organ damage,” Dr. Renly Lim, one of the researchers behind the study and a research fellow at the University of South Australia, told Medical News Today.
Research so far on the relationship between blood pressure variability (BPV) and mental illness has been limited. This is important as BPV has been associated with coronary disease.
“We also know that people with higher blood pressure variation have higher cardiovascular risk. Our study now makes the connection between mental health problems with blood pressure and heart rate,” said Dr. Lim.
The study adds to existing research establishing a link between mental health and physical well-being.
The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is a complex network of cells that regulate involuntary physiologic processes like maintaining a constant internal temperature, regulating breathing patterns, keeping blood pressure steady, and moderating the heart rate.
Autonomic dysfunction is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Doctors assess heart rate variability (HRV), which is controlled by the ANS, to see the duration in time between heartbeats. Having a constantly changing heart rate has been linked with having a healthy regulatory system.
Correspondingly, a number of studies have reported an association between reduced HRV and depression and anxiety disorders — including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.