Your Moody Heart

Mood effects a lot of things, work, relationships, and—believe it or not—your health; specifically your ticker. On The CBS Early Show, Dr. Mallika Marshall talks about the mind-body-heart connection. Here’s a snippet:
Marshall says there's "clearly a mind-body connection. The brain collects signals from all over the body and translates them into instructions, telling various organs how to function, including our hearts. For example, if we're cold, if we're hot, if we're dehydrated, if we're frightened -- the brain sends signals to the heart telling it to speed up, slow down, pump harder, etc. And our moods can have a significant effect on our hearts, as well. For example, research out of Harvard has found that recurrent heart attacks may be more closely linked to depression than to other risk factors such as cholesterol, smoking, blood pressure or diabetes."

The moods in question, Marshall points out, are the ones that make us feel rotten, both emotionally and physically. For example, sudden bursts of anger or intense stress cause the brain to increase the production of cortisol and other "fight-or-flight" hormones. Cortisol can affect the lining of blood vessels over time, and make heart attack and stroke more likely. Long-term depression can also affect the heart in several ways. It can trigger the release of substances that can cause inflammation in blood vessels, which may be linked to heart disease. And the actual deficiency of serotonin (the "feel-good" hormone in our brains) that can trigger depression may also make our blood clot more easily, also promoting heart disease.
So, next time you’re at the DMV—angrily weighing the option of homicide—think twice and relax.
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