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How Mental Health Can Impact the Risk of Heart Disease

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

How Mental Health Can Impact the Risk of Heart Disease

TUSTIN, Calif., February 15, 2022 – When it comes to decreasing the risk of heart disease, lifestyle choices such as exercise and a healthy diet are often the most talked about, but medical providers at Families Together of Orange County, a nonprofit community health center, are educating patients and the community about the intersection of mental health and heart health.

According to medical experts, suffering from mental health concerns over a long period of time can lead to physical reactions in the body such as an increased heart rate, high blood pressure, rapid breathing, and increased levels of cortisol – all which impact heart health. More specifically, depression and anxiety have been linked to heart health and contribute to negative lifestyle behaviors that increase the risk of heart disease.

At Families Together of Orange County, a nonprofit community health center with locations in Southern California, doctors use an interdisciplinary approach where medical providers work with mental health experts in the organization’s Behavioral Health Department to help address any suspected mental health concerns that may affect that patient’s overall health. This approach has helped 30 individuals get treated for medical and mental health concerns in less than a year.

Yvette Visconte, Clinical Director of Behavioral Health at Families Together of Orange County, comments:

“People who are battling with mental health will sometimes engage in maladaptive coping mechanisms such as smoking, not exercising, forgetting to take their medication, drug use, and other behaviors which can increase the risk of heart disease. So, as an organization, we make sure to all work together to help give the best treatment to each patient, and whenever a medical provider suspects that the patient should be seen by our Behavioral Health Department, it’s an easy transition right on-site.”

But for lower income populations, access to mental health and medical resources can be poised with obstacles such as language and cultural barriers, lack of access, or lack of  health insurance. And in communities of color, they are reportedly 50% less likely to seek care for mental health concerns compared to White communities. Community health centers like Families Together are helping to bridge that gap with education, outreach, and cultural and language familiarity.

“Social determinants of health are major factors that can impact heart health. Lack of resources to seek medical attention, for example, can cause long-term damage. By helping to identify mental health concerns in medical patients and medical concerns in mental health patients, we’re opening a door for many families and individuals to get the care they need.”

In honor of American Heart Month, Families Together of Orange County is promoting heart health all throughout the month of February. It is providing education and outreach materials to its patients and the community free of charge. It recently released a list of tips and recommendations for keeping a healthy heart, which can be found on the community health center’s blog in English and Spanish aquí

Acerca de Families Together of Orange County Community Health Center

Desde 2003, Families Together of Orange County Community Health Center (FTOC) ha servido con orgullo a la comunidad del Condado de Orange con una gran variedad de servicios de salud al mismo tiempo que brinda un hogar médico acogedor, multilingüe y centrado en el paciente para todos. FTOC es una organización sin fines de lucro 501 (c) 3, similar a FQHC, miembro de la Coalición de Centros de Salud Comunitarios del Condado de Orange y la Asociación de Atención Primaria de California.

Por favor visite www.familiestogetheroc.org para obtener más información sobre Families Together of Orange County y las últimas actualizaciones.

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Para solicitudes de entrevistas y más información, por favor comuníquese con Cassie Rossel.