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Is there any relation between heart rate variations and Mental health? Should the society give extra attention to mental health? Researchers at the University of South Australia uncovered a reason why society should pay more attention to mental health.

They found that mental health is closely related to blood pressure and heart rate variations. The new study published in BioMedical Engineering draws a link between mental illness and widely fluctuating blood pressure, which can lead to cardiovascular disease and organ damage.

UniSA researcher Dr Renly Lim and colleagues from Malaysian universities claimed of clear evidence of mental illness interferes with the body’s autonomic functions, including blood pressure, heart rate, temperature and breathing. “We reviewed 12 studies on people with anxiety, depression and panic disorders and found that, regardless of age, mental illness is significantly associated with greater blood pressure variations during the day,” Dr Lim says.

The researcher said that heart rate people who are mentally ill do not adapt to external stressors. “Contrary to what many people think, a healthy heart is not one that beats like a metronome. Instead, it should adjust to withstand environmental and psychological challenge. A constantly changing heart rate is actually a sign of good health,” the researcher said.

HEART RATE VARIATION

Reduced heart rate variation (HRV) is common in people with mental illness and indicates that the body’s stress response is poor, exacerbating the negative effects of chronic stress. Low HRV occurs when a person’s body is in fight-or-flight mode, easily stressed and common in people with chronic diseases, including cardiovascular and mental health problems.

While large blood pressure variations (BPV) during the day are not ideal, at night the systolic pressure should dip by between 10-20 per cent to allow the heart to rest. The researchers found that in people with mental health issues, their blood pressure does not drop sufficiently at night. The reduced dipping – under 10 per cent – can be caused by many factors, including autonomic dysfunction, poor quality of sleep and disrupted circadian rhythms that regulate the sleep-wake cycle. The takeout from this study is that we need to pay more attention to the physical impacts of mental illness,” Dr Lim says,

” It is a major global burden, affecting between 11-18 per cent (one billion) of people worldwide. Since mental illness can contribute to the deterioration of heart and blood pressure regulation, early therapeutic intervention is essential.

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