Susceptibility of Women to Cardiovascular Disease and the Prevention Potential of Mind-Body Intervention by Changes in Neural Circuits and Cardiovascular Physiology

Author: Hyun-Jeong Yang1,2, Eugene Koh3, Yunjeong Kang1
1 Korea Institute of Brain Science, Seoul 06022, Korea.
2 Department of Integrative Health Care, University of Brain Education, Cheonan 31228, Korea.
3 Temasek Life Sciences Laboratories, Singapore 117604, Singapore.
Conference/Journal: Biomolecules
Date published: 2021 May 10
Other: Volume ID: 11 , Issue ID: 5 , Pages: 708 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3390/biom11050708. , Word Count: 238

Women have been reported to be more vulnerable to the development, prognosis and mortality of cardiovascular diseases, yet the understanding of the underlying mechanisms and strategies to overcome them are still relatively undeveloped. Studies show that women's brains are more sensitive to factors affecting mental health such as depression and stress than men's brains. In women, poor mental health increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, and conversely, cardiovascular disease increases the incidence of mental illness such as depression. In connection with mental health and cardiovascular health, the presence of gender differences in brain activation, cortisol secretion, autonomic nervous system, vascular health and inflammatory response has been observed. This connection suggests that strategies to manage women's mental health can contribute to preventing cardiovascular disease. Mind-body interventions, such as meditation, yoga and qigong are forms of exercise that strive to actively manage both mind and body. They can provide beneficial effects on stress reduction and mental health. They are also seen as structurally and functionally changing the brain, as well as affecting cortisol secretion, blood pressure, heart rate variability, immune reactions and reducing menopausal symptoms, thus positively affecting women's cardiovascular health. In this review, we investigate the link between mental health, brain activation, HPA axis, autonomic nervous system, blood pressure and immune system associated with cardiovascular health in women and discuss the effects of mind-body intervention in modulating these factors.

Keywords: cardiovascular disease; mind–body intervention; women.

PMID: 34068722 DOI: 10.3390/biom11050708