Cardiovascular Disease

Authored by: George D. Bishop

Handbook of Health Psychology

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138052819
eBook ISBN: 9781315167534
Adobe ISBN:


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Heart disease is the leading cause of death world and is associated with a number of behavioral and psychosocial risk factors. Key among the behavioral risk factors are smoking, lack of exercise, obesity, unhealthy diet, and alcohol consumption. Psychosocial risk factors include depression, anxiety, lack of social support, anger and hostility, stress, and vital exhaustion. A variety of mechanisms relate these risk factors to heart disease including poor health habits and physiological mechanisms such as dysregulation of the sympathetic nervous system, neuroendocrine and hemodynamic responses, and inflammation, among others. Behavioral and psychosocial factors are also associated with how people cope with heart disease. One key determinant of survival after a coronary event is getting help in an expeditious fashion. However, many people deny the significance of their symptoms and delay for hours or even days before seeking help. After a coronary, even cardiac, attack, rehabilitation that includes exercise training, nutrition counseling, patient education, risk factor management, and psychosocial support, is an important part of the recovery process. There is also evidence that techniques such as transcendental meditation can speed recovery and improve outcomes.

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