“Heart disease” and “cardiovascular disease” are broad terms used to describe a number of conditions affecting the heart and cardiovascular system, including: diseases of the blood vessels (coronary artery disease); problems affecting heart rhythm (arrhythmias); heart infections; birth defects affecting the heart (congenital heart defects); and atherosclerosis, a buildup of fatty plaques in your arteries that can cause heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. While a variety of risk factors can contribute to heart and cardiovascular diseases, many conditions can be prevented or treated by implementing healthy lifestyle changes.
At Endeavor Psychology, we have extensive experience working with clients facing heart and cardiovascular conditions — in inpatient hospitals, outpatient cardiac rehabilitation programs, and through group therapy and individual counseling. We draw on proven therapeutic techniques, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Interpersonal Therapies, mindfulness strategies, lifestyle modification and stress reduction strategies to help clients reduce their risk of cardiovascular problems, improve quality of life and advance their health goals.
What are risk factors of heart disease?
There are a number of factors that can increase your risk of heart disease, including age, gender, and family history of heart problems. The good news is that many other risk factors are “behavioral” and can be addressed by making healthy lifestyle adjustments. These include:
- Smoking: Heart attacks are more common in smokers than in nonsmokers. That’s because smoking constricts and damages the lining of blood vessels, making them vulnerable to atherosclerosis (build-up of fatty plaques in the arteries) that can lead to heart attack and stroke.
- Poor diet: Diets high in fat, sodium, and cholesterol can contribute to the development of heart disease.
- High blood pressure: Without proper management, high blood pressure can lead to hardening and thickening of your arteries, narrowing the vessels and limiting blood flow to your heart.
- High cholesterol: High levels of low-density lipoproteins or “bad” cholesterol in your blood can increase the risk of atherosclerosis (build-up of plaque in the arteries). Plaques can form as the result of having high levels of “bad” cholesterol, or low levels of “good” cholesterol.
- Diabetes: Diabetes and many of the health factors that can contribute to diabetes (obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, lack of physical activity, poor diet and poor control of blood sugar) can also increase heart disease risk.
- Obesity: Excess weight often exacerbates other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
- Physical inactivity: Lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyle is associated with many forms of heart disease and worsens other risk factors.
- High stress: Chronic (persistent) stress may also damage arteries and increase other risk factors for heart disease.
- Poor hygiene: Viral or bacterial infections can also increase risk of heart infections, particularly if you already have a heart condition. Good hygiene, such as washing your hands and implementing good dental health may also protect against heart disease.
How can Endeavor Psychology help me prevent and manage heart disease and cardiovascular conditions?
The Endeavor Psychology practice was founded by a clinical health psychologist – as such, we have a fundamental focus on helping people identify and address health goals and challenges. At Endeavor Psychology, we help clients prevent, manage and cope with cardiovascular diseases. We use proven therapeutic techniques, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, stress reduction and relaxation techniques, and behavioral strategies to help clients implement and sustain healthy lifestyle changes, including:
- Quitting smoking
- Implementing healthy diet
- Reducing stress
- Keeping diabetes under control
- Increasing physical activity
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Adhering to medication and exercise regimes prescribed by medical specialists
- Preparing for and adjusting to life after surgical procedures
- Maintaining motivation and addressing barriers in order to adhere to cardiac rehabilitation.
If you or someone you care about is dealing with heart/cardiovascular disease and would benefit from the assistance of a clinical health psychologist, please contacts us.