A Heavy Heart: Depression and Cardiac Function

Two recently published studies have found that changes in heart function are seen during major depression [1] and also seen in some people who have recovered from depression [2]. This link between mental health and physical health emphasises how the body and mind are linked. Furthermore, it also suggests that some people with depression may be at increased risk of cardiac disease. The research also sheds further light on the biological pathways of depression.

Depressed woman

Heart Conditions Don’t Just Affect Older Adults

This article was written by Julianne Wyrick.

February is American Heart Month. Sponsored by the American Heart Association, American Heart Month is a time to battle cardiovascular disease and educate people on what they can do to live heart-healthy lives. Heart disease, including stroke, is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States.

How much do you know about the condition of your heart? Heart health awareness typically focuses on heart disease in older adults caused by an unhealthy diet and a lack of exercise. But what if you could be at risk for cardiac arrest and sudden death even though you are young and in shape?

Heart arrhythmiaImage credit: Heart arrhythmia via Shutterstock

Tackling Heart Disease Together or Alone: The Behavioural Science of Self-Management


Heart disease is the leading killer in the U.S. and throughout most of Europe. People’s behaviour can protect and reduce risk of heart disease, and interventions to help people “self-manage” exist. But what is the best way to “self-manage”? A recent study shows that group programmes and self-directed programmes have remarkably different effects [1].


Self-management interventions exist for many health problems. They are notoriously difficult to define. One thorough definition is that it relates to activities undertaken by the person who has a “chronic” or “long-term” condition such as asthma, multiple sclerosis or arthritis. These activities include problem solving, decision making, resource utilization, the formation of a patient-provider partnership, action planning and self tailoring [2]. Interventions or programmes are designed around these activities to help support people to manage their own illness. The idea is that following attendance at a programme of some sort, the activities and skills learned will be continued to be used, thus improving health, maintaining fitness and/or quality of life and reducing the risk of future acute episodes of ill health. These interventions are popular for many reasons, including the relatively low cost to health service providers as interventions can be delivered by health-care professionals or by people with the relevant condition who have been trained, or a mixture of both. Self-management interventions also allow people with long-term conditions to be meet in a group with people with similar conditions. The experience of being in a group, knowing one is not alone and sharing stories is thought to play some part in the effectiveness of self-management interventions. But to what extent is this true?