ATLANTA, May 14 (UPI) -- Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta have found mental illness and heart disease are closely linked.
They say attaining and sustaining good mental health is just as vital as exercise and diet in preventing cardiovascular disease, especially for women over 45.
The researchers examined the prevalence of mental health issues among people with cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.
In investigating linkages between the two, they used a measure of mental health as a "complete state" that looked beyond episodes of mental illness to also incorporate the subjective well-being and how well people function and flourish in life.
The study found cardiovascular disease was lowest in adults who were the most mentally healthy and higher among adults with major depressive episodes, minor depression and moderate mental health.
The relationship between cardiovascular disease and mental health was the same for age and sex, except for females between the ages of 45 and 74 where mental health issues measures were much more prevalent.