As clinicians delivering health care, we are very good at treating disease but often not as good at treating the person. The focus of our attention has been on the specific physical condition rather than the patient as a whole. Less attention has been given to psychological health and how that can contribute to physical health and disease. However, there is now an increasing appreciation of how psychological health can contribute not only in a negative way to cardiovascular disease (CVD) but also in a positive way to better cardiovascular health and reduced cardiovascular risk. This American Heart Association scientific statement was commissioned to evaluate, synthesize, and summarize for the health care community knowledge to date on the relationship between psychological health and cardiovascular health and disease and to suggest simple steps to screen for, and ultimately improve, the psychological health of patients with and at risk for CVD. Based on current study data, the following statements can be made: There are good data showing clear associations between psychological health and CVD and risk; there is increasing evidence that psychological health may be causally linked to biological processes and behaviors that contribute to and cause CVD; the preponderance of data suggest that interventions to improve psychological health can have a beneficial impact on cardiovascular health; simple screening measures can be used by health care providers for patients with or at risk for CVD to assess psychological health status; and consideration of psychological health is advisable in the evaluation and management of patients with or at risk for CVD.
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