Does your heart beat faster when you are around the person you love? Do you feel that the heart skips a beat when you meet a person you love or whose company you cherish? That flutter, that feeling of excitement and happiness may do more than just make you feel good, it may actually be good for your heart health.
One theory on why love is good for your health is that blood pressure responds to calmness and peace. If you’re in love, you’re calmer and more at peace, which could translate into lower blood pressure. But that is not all. Other than BP, there are many other mechanisms boosting heart health. One of them is improved Coronary blood flow.
It may seem like love was being tested during the pandemic with COVID safety protocols making it harder to meet people. But news reports show people continued to find safe and creative ways to make connections and find romance even during COVID.
What are the health benefits of love?
Love makes us feel good. Love has healing powers. Love is good for your heart.
Love may help you recover if you do develop heart problems. Research has shown that married people are more likely to survive and have a better recovery than people who are not married.
Men tend to gain more of a cardiovascular benefit from marriage than women do, but on the whole, marriage helps you live longer. It could be from having love in your life, or simply having someone there who has a vested interest in you and is taking care of you. Either way, we have seen that married people recover better from a heart-related procedure than those who are single.
All types of love can benefit your heart. It’s not just romantic love that can improve your heart health. Having close, loving relationships with your friends and family can have cardiovascular benefits. Researchers have investigated the role of having the support of loved ones after cardiac bypass surgery. Over time, patients who had good social support had a better recovery and survival rate.
Many cardiologists counsel their patients about the importance of support after surgery or Angioplasty. This support includes not only spouses, but close friends and family.
Surrounding yourself with people who love you — no matter the relationship — can also make you feel more at peace, more inclined to follow medical advice and take an active part in your care, which can improve recovery.
There are even heart-healthy benefits to spending time with your four-legged friends.
Pet ownership also helps people survive longer after a heart procedure. This relationship has been looked at in both dogs and cats. Those two animals provide a definite benefit from a survival perspective. Experts believe it is because of the unconditional love that pets give you.
What happens when someone breaks our heart?
While having love in your life can benefit your health, a broken heart can sometimes have physical side effects.
We all have seen film characters dying because of a sudden bad news or because of some sudden overwhelming emotions in the movies or stories. This does happen in real life also, albeit less frequently. Some of them suffer from a heart attack-like condition known as Takotsubo.
What is Broken Heart Syndrome?
Cardiomyopathy or Broken Heart Syndrome is a reversible condition in many, with partial or full recovery. But in some, it can lead to permanent damage to the heart.
Broken heart syndrome is a very real medical disorder. This is typically a temporary condition where the heart will have sudden enlargement and be very ineffective at pumping. It is usually reversible and can normalize after the stress is resolved, but that can take a few weeks to a few months.
Broken heart syndrome, also called Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, is more common in women, although either gender can have symptoms. In rare cases, this condition can be dangerous and even fatal.
Are there serious consequences of breakups in terms of heart health?
Stress in general can raise your risk of heart problems and should not be ignored. A recent survey found that one third of the population surveyed did not know that stress – in addition to high blood pressure, obesity and smoking – can increase the risk of developing heart disease.
There are many healthy ways to reduce stress in our lives. Being in a loving relationship is one way and it comes with many health benefits. Love comes in many forms.
Having love in your life is paramount to living a healthy lifestyle. That love can come from many different sources: marriage, a partner, siblings, parents, friends or a pet. The goal is gaining peace through love, which decreases stress and anxiety in your life and benefits your heart.
There’s a strong relationship between your mental health and cardiovascular health, and new research suggests that both are closely tied together in ways not previously understood
By some estimates, those with cardiovascular disease are 3 times more likely to struggle with depression. They’re also likely to go undiagnosed because of the stigma associated with mental illness and the lack of mental health evaluations conducted in medical settings. The prognosis is worse for adults with depression: 80% are at increased risk of developing new cardiovascular illness, experiencing complications or hospitalizations, and dying from heart disease.
Depression can worsen cardiovascular health through other health behaviours too. For example, those with depression might be less willing to follow medical treatment plans, more likely to eat unhealthy “comfort” foods—especially ones high in sugar and sodium—and live more sedentary lifestyles. Depression impacts certain stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which also can “spike” your blood sugar, blood pressure, and resting heart rate.
Depression, anger and inner hostility, hopelessness and despair, severe stress and tension, these are few, but not the only, emotions that can worsen one’s heart health by themselves.
On the flip side, psychological well-being might be associated with higher levels of cardiovascular health. Optimism, for example, might reduce your risk of heart disease. How? Optimism is characterized by expecting good things to happen or having a sense of control, and both perspectives can influence you to engage in restorative health behaviours, reduce risky or harmful behaviours, and make better choices. If you are full of hope, love, benevolence, and other positive emotions, you’re more likely to take purposeful action to deal with your illness and take preventive measures to ward off disease in the first place.
Studies have shown that people who have good friends, companions and meaningful relationships, live healthier and longer lives. Simple acts of love and affection can bring about better mental and physical well-being. Munnabhai’s “Jadoo ki jhappi” is not an imaginary thing, it is a wonderful medicine, if not a panacea.
In short, psychological health and illness impact cardiovascular health, and vice versa. The relationship is a complicated, two-way street. Love your heart by taking care of yourself and seeking help when needed. Your heart will thank you for it.
(Author: Dr Sameer Dani, Director and Chief Interventional Cardiologist, Apollo CVHF Heart Institute)