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Psychological Interventions Can Improve Survival Rates in Heart Disease Patients

Update Date: Oct 12, 2013 11:57 AM EDT

Based on the findings from a new study, researchers are reporting that psychological interventions could have a positive effect on heart disease patients. The researchers found that these types of interventions were capable of halving the death rate and cardiovascular events for patients who suffer from heart disease.

"The nurses on our coronary care unit observed that patients were less likely to have another heart attack, die or return to hospital when we talked to them about their treatment, played music for them or helped religious patients to say prayers. It made us think that coronary heart disease is not just physical but also has a psychological component," Dr. Zoi Aggelopoulou, one of the study's author said. "We wanted to find out if others had observed the same thing, and whether psychological support had a real impact on the outcomes of patients with coronary heart disease."

For this study, the researchers examined nine randomized controlled trials. The research team focused on the effects of psychological interventions combined with a rehabilitation program on heart disease patients. They found that by incorporating psychological interventions to the conventional program, heart patients' mortality rate and number of cardiovascular evens dropped by 55 percent after two years. The interventions include relaxation exercises, music therapy and prayers.

"Our research shows that giving them information and providing reassurance decreases the chances of them dying or having another heart attack. Patients can help instigate this new culture of information by asking more questions and getting more involved in decisions about their treatment," Aggelopoulou said.

The researchers presented their findings at the Acute Cardiac Care Congress 2013, which is a yearly meeting of the Acute Cardiovascular Care Association (ACCA) of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). The meeting takes place in Madrid, Spain from Oct. 14-16.

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