The heartbreak-heart disease connection killing women

Across America, millions of women suffer from a heavy heart. This heavy heart is caused by chronic clinical depression — something women are twice as likely to have as men. It can strike at any age. But regardless of when it hits, it takes a toll on your heart in more than just an emotional sense…

It causes physical changes in your body that can lead to heart disease — a disease that kills a quarter of American women. It’s strange to think that a heavy heart can impact your heart health in a measurable way, but consider this…

Of all heart conditions, women are more likely than men to suffer from broken heart syndrome, a condition where extreme emotional stress causes severe (albeit short-term) heart muscle failure.

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Your emotional heart really can affect your physical heart

A study conducted by researchers at Ready Hospital in Pennsylvania found that middle-aged women with a history of depression are significantly more likely to develop heart disease.

In their study, researchers tracked the mental and physical health of 1,100 women for 10 years. The women had an average age of 55, and none of them had any history of heart ailments.

At the end of the study, half of the women who experienced some type of depression over those 10 years also experienced some form of cardiac disease. But only two percent of undepressed women had cardiac problems when all was said and done.

Coincidence? Probably not. This isn’t the first time researchers have uncovered a connection between depression and heart disease…

A 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that women 55 years old and younger who are severely or moderately depressed are twice as likely to have a heart attack, die or require artery-opening procedures.

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Heart-saving solutions

So what’s the take-home message here? You need to take care of your emotional heart and physical heart if you want good heart health. And you can do both by:

  • Exercising for at least 30 minutes per day. It’s one of the best ways to fight depression and heart disease in one fell swoop. Ideally, you should get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. Need an exercise suggestion? Find something perfect for you here.
  • Eating a healthy diet like the Mediterranean diet, which is proven to help your brain health and prevent depression. It’s also one of the best diets for your heart health according to countless studies. The Mediterranean diet includes a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and olive oil. It also includes moderate amounts of seafood, poultry, eggs and dairy, but little to no red meat and sweets.
  • Meditating daily. It has proven benefits for depression and heart disease — even if you just do it for 15 minutes per day. Here are some tips to get you started.

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  1. “Depression in Women.” Mental Health America. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  2. “Depression can fuel heart disease in midlife women: study.” MedicalXpress. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  3. “Depression linked to higher heart disease death risk in younger women.” MedicalXpress. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  4. “Heart Disease in Women.” MedlinePlus. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  5. “American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults.” American Heart Association. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  6. “Mediterranean diet: Good for your mind and your heart.” Harvard Medical School- Harvard Health Publications. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  7. “Meditation For Stress Relief – Beginners Guided Meditation For Stress & Anxiety.” YouTube- Yoga TX.
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and