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Congenital Heart Defects and Mental Health Disorders: What is the Connection?

by Harry A. Digital Marketer

As a Foundation dealing with heart disorders, Genesis Foundation experiences the connection between congenital heart defects and mental health disorders almost on a regular basis through all the various families that contact them.

According to the study published in The American Journal of Cardiology, adolescents with congenital heart disease have a greater risk for being diagnosed with developmental disorders, anxiety disorders, attention, conduct, behaviour, impulse control disorders and mood disorders; and adults experience a higher prevalence of mood disorders, anxiety disorders and substance-related disorders.

In both adolescents and adults with congenital heart disease, researchers found the following associations between the disease, treatment and mental illness:

  • Greater lesion complexity was linked to increased odds of anxiety and developmental disorders
  • Receiving at least two cardiac procedures during the 3-year surveillance period led to a threefold increase in the likelihood of mental illness diagnosis in adolescents and a 4.5-fold increase in adults
  • Patients with a genetic syndrome were also more likely to be diagnosed with a mental illness.

However, on the positive flipside, several studies found that Adult Congenital Heart Defect patients experience a generally good quality of living. But Adult Congenital Heart Defect patients tend to differ from healthy individuals in higher financial strain and less social support, which in turn results in higher scores of emotional distress.

A recent large-scale international study conducted by Moons et al. identified functional class, higher age, unemployment status, standard of living and healthcare system characteristics as important predictors for a patient's health status and found significant variations across the countries where patients live in. Patient-reported health outcomes defined as a composite of psychological well-being, physiological functioning and health behaviours were most favourable in Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands and lowest in France, Japan and India. Intercountry variation can be partly attributed to economic differences and healthcare system factors.

There is sparse evidence on the impact of chronic emotional distress on health outcomes among Adult Congenital Heart Defect patients. However, the findings on acquired heart disease suggest that high levels of emotional distress increase the risk for adverse medical outcomes and premature mortality. While depression is clearly linked to mortality in coronary artery disease patients, a meta-analysis also confirmed that anxiety can be detrimental to cardiac health in patients with acquired cardiovascular disease (CVD). Based on the findings in patients with acquired CVD, it is conceivable that unrecognized and hence untreated mental issues may also put individuals with CHD at an increased risk for recurrent cardiac events. However, there is a substantial deficit of research on the interaction of psychological conditions and physiological outcomes in CHD patients. Particularly, longitudinal research on the consequences of emotional distress in CHD patients is needed.

It also came into consideration that focusing more on such problems may lead to increase in stress and increase pressure on different lobes of the brain. Scientists suggest that one must involve in healthy and fun-loving activities and not on adversely affecting activities which directly affect over both the parts of the body. The person must involve himself in comic activities and such other activities which helps in secretion of positive impulses in the brain and give a positive effect over heart as well.

This has important implications, from cradle to grave, for people living with a heart condition. This understanding could better inform medical care by focusing on establishing feelings of safety, for example, by promoting the importance of the parent's presence, touch and soothing voice to the child while supporting the psychological health of the child's family.

Teaching medical staff how to manage distress, how to communicate compassionately and the importance of encouraging the presence of loved ones would also be beneficial. This understanding also suggests possible interventions, specifically touch, play and music therapies for children.

For adults, a focus on safety and emotional regulation may be more beneficial than talk therapy. This seems particularly important for a population who may have grown up during a time when parents were discouraged from visiting their children in hospital  and who may have endured illness and difficult medical experiences without the soothing presence of their parent. People living with this condition might also benefit from mindfulness, meditation and breathing techniques to help them feel safe. It is important to be under the well-being of people in every state of body.

For World Heart Day, 2021, Genesis Foundation, dealing with heart disorders, talked a lot about it on their social media pages.


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About Harry A. Advanced   Digital Marketer

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Joined APSense since, September 2nd, 2015, From Delhi, India.

Created on Oct 5th 2021 06:50. Viewed 114 times.

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