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Jan/Feb 2012 65
Mind/Body Interactions
The Mind/Heart Connection: Scientists
have pieced together how stress affects
the heart. This work is well summarized
by Cynthia Medich, Ph.D., R.N., a
cardiovascular specialist and researcher
at the Mind/Body Medical Institute,
Harvard Medical School and New
England Deaconess Hospital, Boston.
What Medich describes as the mind/
heart connection involves the release
of two kinds of stress hormones into
the bloodstream: corticosteroids and
catecholamines.
These hormones set off a cascade of
changes in the body including increased
platelet aggregation (tendency for blood
clotting); increased coronary artery tone;
a surge in coronary artery pressure;
increased blood pressure, glucose
levels, and lipid levels; a more rapid and
powerful heartbeat; and, paradoxically,
a constriction in the coronary arteries.
In short, the demands on the heart all
increase.
Relationship to Other Forms of Medicine
Mind/body medicine is usually used
in the role of complementary therapy.
This means it works alongside other
treatment in a supportive way. It
communicates a cooperative partnership
rather than being exclusive of other
traditions. In fact, all medical traditions
now include within them some attention
to mind/body interactions and ways of
working with them.