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HEART HEALTH: Social support should be considered as an after-care plan for patients

Updated: Mar 11, 2022

Support of good friends and family helps to make healthy social connections. It’s important for heart health, says a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

In follow-up interviews of heart attack patients, a year after the heart attack, the study found that if patients felt they lacked social support (friends or family that they could confide in or lean on for emotional and financial support during the recovery), their mental functioning was lower, they had a poor quality of life and more symptoms of depression. This was found in women as well as in men.

One study found that people’s risk of death due to depression increased from three to 17 percent after having a heart attack.

This is an important statistic that proves social support should be considered as an after-care plan for patients with heart attacks.

Depression is especially dangerous for the heart because those with both stress and depression were found to be nearly 50 percent more likely to die or have a heart attack because of heart disease than those with either low stress or depression.

Studies showed that divorce hurts women’s hearts more than men. Women were 24 percent more likely to experience a heart attack compared with those that remained married.

Those divorcing two or more times had an even greater risk to 77 percent. These facts were not true for men.

A study published in Occupation Health Psychology found that having a boss that you have negative interactions with can make your blood pressure go up and stay up even after you’ve left the #workplace and long after you’ve gone home.

Mood and emotions can have a direct impact on the heart. Doctors should consider sending their heart disease patients to a #psychologist for screening to help determine the amount of stress and/ or depression the patient is experiencing and this would also be an opportunity to find out what kind of social supports, if any, this person may have.

Even if your doctor doesn’t send you, if you have a combination of these symptoms, you may want to seek out a psychologist. A group for heart disease and heart attack patients may be beneficial for heart health.

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