Research Topic

Mind the Heart – Psychosocial Risk Factors and Cognitive Functioning in Cardiovascular Disease

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About this Research Topic

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major cause of disability and premature death throughout the world, contributing substantially to the escalating costs of health care.
The field of psycho-cardiology explores the role of psychosocial factors in the genesis and clinical management of cardiovascular ...

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major cause of disability and premature death throughout the world, contributing substantially to the escalating costs of health care.
The field of psycho-cardiology explores the role of psychosocial factors in the genesis and clinical management of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Although there are similarities when it comes to the management of chronic illnesses, each condition has its important specificities which need to be taken into account.
Medicine advancements have certainly contributed to improving treatments and resulted in increased survival rates both for patients who were born with congenital heart disease and for those who have acquired the illness during their adulthood. These conditions are often chronic and life-long, therefore it is important to develop effective psychological interventions for both patients and their caregivers.

Convincing data reveals that psychosocial determinants, such as lack of social support, work- and family-related stressors, spousal relationship quality or psychosocial distress - i.e. depression, anxiety, mental stress, largely contribute to both the risk of developing heart problems and the worsening of clinical course in CVD patients. Psychosocial distress may affect one’s self management, adherence to pharmacotherapy and lifestyle changes, which might lead to recurrence of cardiac events and to the development of other chronic conditions Due to underlying pathophysiology, CVD is also frequently associated with cerebrovascular and cognitive impairments, which further affect the individual’s ability to manage complex medical regimens and to recognize worsening symptoms

Also, when it comes to congenital heart disease (CHD) - compared to healthy peers - these patients are at elevated risk of neurocognitive deficits, mood and anxiety disorders, as well as posttraumatic stress disorder. These aspects have historically been under-recognized in both inpatients and outpatients settings but are especially important to monitor in CHD patients. Despite the fact that psychosocial and cognitive impairments might have both a direct and an indirect effect on CVD parameters, their roles still remain unclear.

Given the augmented healthcare costs associated with CVD and its chronic nature, an evaluation of the signs and symptoms of the illness, combined with the measurement of the individuals’ mood status and proper neuropsychological screening of CVD patients, could help in designing tailored assessment procedures and intervention plans for this population of patients. Therefore, in order to further explore the role of neuro-psychosocial factors in the development and progression of cardiac diseases, this Research Topic welcomes studies which:

• Examine the contribution of various psychosocial and neuropsychological aspects among patients coping with either congenital or acquired cardiac diseases, along the illness time line.
• Compare psychosocial and/or neuropsychological functioning among patients coping with different cardiac diagnoses.
• Present systematic reviews or meta-analyses on specific psychosocial risk factors and outcomes and the efficacy of diverse interventions in the context of CVD
• Provide guidelines for psychosocial handling of the different cardiac illnesses.
• Examine the efficacy of psychosocial and/or neuropsychological interventions for specific cardiac conditions.
• Analyze case studies in which psychosocial and/or neuropsychological functioning of cardiac patients and caregivers are demonstrated, and subsequent interventions are described.


Keywords: psychosocial risk factors, cognitive functioning, Health promoting behavioral change, cardiovascular diseases, caregivers, self-management


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