Psychological well-being is an important factor in cardiovascular health and should be treated as such, researchers argued in reviewing the known links between and psychology and cardiology.
"Clinical cardiology encounters can provide an excellent opportunity to assess and promote psychological well-being, especially as it relates to health. A first step during the visit may be a brief assessment for symptoms of psychological distress, such as depression and anxiety," wrote Darwin Labarthe, MD, MPH, PhD, of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, and colleagues.
They listed several ways that clinicians can inquire about aspects of a patient's psychological well-being (e.g., "Do you ever feel grateful about your health? Tell me about that.") in a review article in the Sept. 18 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology
For patients who show adequate interest in this type of interaction, healthcare providers can go one step further and offer activities that help patients develop certain characteristics associated with a good mental state (e.g., to to boost self-confidence: "Considering one's prior successes, the characteristics that led to such successes, and how they may apply to health goals").
"It is well understood that most physicians have had minimal training in this area and have highly limited time with patients," the authors acknowledged. But they argued that the assessment and promotion of psychological well-being can be kept brief but still be a "meaningful component of a patient's appointment and overall care."
Labarthe's team listed three main needs for future research:
- A better definition and measurement of "psychological well-being"
- More rigorous investigation of causal pathways linking psychological well-being with cardiovascular outcomes
- Study of whether interventions that promote psychological well-being really improve heart health
"With wider experience and further evidence, clinical practice recommendations and health policy guidelines for psychological well-being interventions could substantially affect population-level cardiovascular health," according to the group.
"Investment in the proposed research is urgently needed to realize this potential contribution of improved psychological health to better population-level cardiovascular health -- an issue that can no longer wait."
Labarthe disclosed no conflicts of interest.
Journal of the American College of Cardiology
Source Reference: Kubzansky LD, et al “Positive psychological well-being and cardiovascular disease: JACC health promotion series” J Am Coll Cardiol 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2018.07.042.
Read the original article on Medpage Today: Happy Patient, Healthy Heart?