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Psychological support improve the outcome of heart disease patients

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According to a meta-analysis presented at the Acute Cardiac Care Congress 2013, heart disease patients are less likely to suffer from another heart attack if they receive psychological support. Starting from simple observations on patients from the coronary care unit, the investigators wanted to see if indeed psychological support influences the outcome of patients with heart attack .

Dr Zoi Aggelopoulou, a nurse and one of the study authors, explained that patients were unlikely to suffer from a second heart attack, to die or to return to the hospital if the nurses talk to them about their treatment, if they played music for them or if  they helped the patients to say their prayers. That made them the nurses believe that coronary heart disease is not only a physical illness but also it involves a psychological component.

In the current meta-analysis conducted by investigators from Athens, Greece, the researchers wanted to see if psychological interventions, along with standard rehabilitation programs, can improve the recovery of patients with coronary heart disease. The meta-analysis, which included nine randomized clinical trials, showed that psychological interventions have benefited these patients. The researchers found that psychological support resulted in decreased mortality and cardiovascular events by 55% after two years or more. Therefore, the meta-analysis demonstrated that psychological interventions indeed have a positive impact on the outcome of these patients, but after the first two years after heart attack.



Dr Aggelopoulou said they found a huge benefit of psychological interventions after the first two years, with fewer patients who died or who had cardiovascular events. She explained that these interventions consisted of talking with the patients and their families about their issues, listening to music and helping them to say their prayers.

The studies conducted so far have shown that psychological factors may influence the likelihood of a heart attack. Some of these factors include depression, chronic stress, marital distress, socioeconomic status, social isolation, etc. According to Dr Aggelopoulou, the current study reinforces the idea that psychological factors play an important role in heart disease. She explained that these factors not only have an impact on the risk of having another heart attack but also influences and future prospects of a patient who had a cardiovascular event. Therefore, researchers now strongly believe that psychological support should be included in rehabilitation programs of patients with coronary heart disease.