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How Emotions Impact Heart Health

One person dies of heart disease every minute in America. However, by proactively living a heart friendly lifestyle, you can mitigate and reduce your risk.

Dr. John Whyte, Chief Medical Officer of WebMD and author of the new book “Take Control of Your Heart Disease Risk,” joins Dr. Phil on his Phil in the Blanks podcast to explain how emotions impact the heart and give you tools to help save a life.

“You just can’t focus on diet and exercise, you need to focus on your emotions as well,” Dr. Whyte says.

“If you're somebody who struggles with depression, anxiety, stress, loneliness, you need to perk up and listen, because this could be contributing to your risk of having a life-altering or life-ending cardiac event,” Dr. Phil says. “It's time to stop ignoring this mind-body connection when it comes to our heart.” New episodes of Phil in the Blanks drop Tuesdays. Listen and subscribe today!



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Photo Credit: Eric Anthony


Dr. Phil McGraw: One person every minute dies of heart disease in America. Now, look, this is preventable.

Dr. Phil McGraw: by proactively living a heart-friendly lifestyle, you can mitigate your risk for years to come, and you have the power to reduce your risk.

Dr. John Whyte: You just can't focus on diet and exercise. You need to focus on your emotions as well.

Dr. John Whyte: What we see in people with depression is really this chronic inflammation.

Dr. John Whyte: People that are depressed have elevated levels of C-reactive protein.

Dr. John Whyte: It causes something known as Endothelial dysfunction. Fancy words for it messes up the lining of your blood vessels so it makes them less elastic.

Dr. John Whyte: That's what chronic depression and stress can do to the physical structure of your heart. And people aren't talking enough about that.

Dr. Phil McGraw: there is evidence that that shows that emotions, attitudes such as gratitude. Can have a positive impact on areas of the brain,

Dr. John Whyte: The Bio-Physiologic whole basis of gratitude is changing the way that our brain is processing emotions and then impacting our heart rate and our breathing.

Dr. Phil McGraw: write down a 65 item blessings list.

Dr. Phil McGraw: We are about 30% more efficient if we have an optimistic attitude.


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Podcast Page: DrPhilintheBlanks

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Dr. John Whyte



Chief Medical Officer, WebMD Author “Take Control of Your Heart Disease Risk” Photo/Bio Credit:

John Whyte, MD, MPH, is a popular physician and writer who has been communicating to the public about health issues for nearly two decades.

Whyte is the Chief Medical Officer, WebMD. In this role, Whyte leads efforts to develop and expand strategic partnerships that create meaningful change around important and timely public health issues. Prior to WebMD, Whyte served as the director of professional affairs and stakeholder engagement at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Whyte worked with health care professionals, patients, and patient advocates, providing them with a focal point for advocacy, enhanced two-way communication, and collaboration, assisting them in navigating the FDA on issues concerning drug development, review, and drug safety. He also developed numerous initiatives to address diversity in clinical trials.

Prior to this, Whyte worked for nearly a decade as the chief medical expert and vice president, health and medical education, at Discovery Channel, the leading nonfiction television network. In this role, Whyte developed, designed, and delivered educational programming that appealed to both a medical and lay audience. This included television shows as well as online content that won over 50 awards including numerous Tellys, CINE Golden Eagle, and Freddies.

Whyte is a board-certified internist. He completed an internal medicine residency at Duke University Medical Center as well as earned a Master of Public Health in health policy and management at Harvard University School of Public Health. Prior to arriving in Washington, Whyte was a health services research fellow at Stanford and attending physician in the department of medicine. He has written extensively in the medical and lay press.

He continues to see patients in Washington, DC, and Maryland.

You Can Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease Starting Now.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Although some causes of heart disease are genetic, most is caused by lifestyle. Get Your Own Book Here

Executive Summary by Dr. Phil: As written by Dr. Phil in the forward of Dr. Whyte’s book:

Many people don’t seem to focus on the fact that our emotions really do and always have played a key role in the many aspects of heart disease. This lack of awareness is despite the wealth of data in recent years that shows the relationship between our emotional health, and our heart health.

Overall Heart Disease Statistics:

• 1 person dies from heart disease every minute in America.

• Heart disease is the leading cause of death, with 650,000

people lost in 2020.

• Cause of 1 out of every 4 deaths.

• Silent heart attacks make up more than 40% of all heart

attacks; means no symptoms and triples your chance of dying.

• 80% of heart disease is caused by lifestyle

• According to an American Heart Association report published in

2022, only 7% of Americas met criteria for good heart health.

• Trend has been getting worse for the last 5 years.

• Currently 30% of Americans have heart disease.

• American Heart Association estimates that by 2030, more than 40% will have some sort of HD.

Heart Disease Risk Factors:

• Age, family history, obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, physical activity, diabetes, poor diet, hyperlipidemia, low iron, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, gum disease, asthma, medications, insomnia, migraines, COVID, HIV, flu, sex, epilepsy, menopause, stress, depression, loneliness, anxiety, sudden/intense exhaustion, eye disease, gout, cancer, cognitive impairment.

• If parent had heart disease at an early age, your risk increases 60-75%

Photo Credit: Eric Anthony Depression and the Heart:

• A meta-analysis of 11 studies published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry in 2007 found people who experience major depression had a roughly 64% high risk for developing heart disease.

• A study published in the JAMA Psychiatry in 2020 followed roughly 146,000 people in 21 economically diverse countries.

• Found 20% increase in cardiovascular events and deaths among people with 4 or more depressive symptoms during the study.

• Risk of dying increased progressively with the number of symptoms reported.

• A study published in the journal of Psychosomatic Medicine in 2009 followed 6,000 adults found that depression was strongly linked to higher CRP levels.

• C-reactive protein is a potent marker for inflammation that is associated with a higher risk of developing heart disease.

• In large meta-analysis published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity in 2020, researchers analyzed 107 studies that compared immune function and inflammatory markers.

• 5,166 had depression, 5,083 controlled subjects

• Found significantly greater levels of inflammation in depressed patients

• Many inflammatory markers were sharply elevated

• Study was by far the largest meta-analysis of immune

markers In depression.

• Depression causes destructive changes to platelets, which control clotting.

• A study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry analyzed platelet activity in people with/without depression.

• Found people with depression had abnormal platelet activation; creating greater risk of stroke and heart attacks.

• Depression can take a harmful toll on both heart rate and heart rhythm.

• People with the lowest heart rate variability were 5X’s more likely to die

• A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in 2019, scientists followed more than 6,600 people over a 13yr period after thy were screened for clinical depression.

• Found people who scored highest on depression screening had more than a 30% greater chance of developing atrial fibrillation compared to those who did not have depression

• A review of more than 500,000 people in over 22 studies measured baseline mood and depression symptoms and then followed participant for a year.

• Found people who had depression had an increase risk for both fatal and nonfatal heart disease

• Takotsubo Syndrome, referred as Broken Heart syndrome is rare, typically affecting only about 2% of people

• Changes shape of heart; enlarges left ventricle.

• In a journal published by the American Heart Association in 2021, broken heart syndrome was increasing at a rate of 6 to 10X’s faster among women in the 50 to 74 age group.

Stress and the Heart:

• APA found that the pandemic was a significant source of stress for 80% of adults.

• The American Journal of Preventive Medicine followed more than 54,000 women across roughly 4 years

• Start of study none of the women had a history of heart disease

• By the end of the study researchers found that women who had been overwhelmed by stress of taking care of a sick spouse were significantly more likely to develop heart disease.

• A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found a fivefold increase in the rate of death from cardiovascular disease among people living in Los Angeles after the infamous 1994 quake.

• Another study showed the rate of heart attacks roughly tripled in the 3 years after Hurricane Katrina.

• Studies found even minor bouts of acute psychological stress

can trigger cardiac events

• After the 2016 presidential election found the rate of hospitalizations for heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiac events in the 2 days after the election CPR Statistics:

• More than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of the hospital each year.

• According to 2021 US data for adult OHCA (Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrests only, survival to hospital discharge was 9.1% for all EMS-treated non-traumatic OHCA cardiac arrests.

• The location of Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrests (OHCA) most

often occurs in homes/residences (73.4%), followed by public settings (16.3%), and nursing homes (10.3%).

• If performed immediately, CPR can double or triple the chance of survival from an out of hospital cardiac arrest.

• Unfortunately, only about 40% of people who experience an OHCA get the immediate help that they need before professional help arrives.

• The 2023 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics state that among

the over 356,000 OHCA that occurred, 40.2% received

bystander CPR.

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Unknown member
Jul 14

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Unknown member
Mar 14, 2023

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