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15 Aug

In controlled clinical trials, imagery has been shown to reduce heart rate reactivity, blood pressure and resting heart rate.

Citation: Sharpley CF. Maintenance amd generalizability of laboratory-based heart rate reactivity control training . Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 1994 Jun;17(3): 309-29.

15 Aug

At Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, Ashton, Whitworth, et al found that patients who were taught self-hypnosis/relaxation techniques before undergoing first-time elective coronary artery bypass surgery were significantly more relaxed following the operation, as compared to a control group. They also used significantly less pain medication. Surgical outcomes were the same for both groups.

Citation: Ashton C Jr, Whitworth GC, et al. Self-hypnosis reduces anxiety following coronary artery bypass surgery. A prospective, randomized trial. J. Cardiovascular Surgery(Torino). 1997 Feb; 38(1): pp. 69-75.

15 Aug

Marital stress worsens prognosis in women with coronary heart disease: The Stockholm female coronary risk study.
15 Aug

Reversal of Coronary Artery Disease from Lifestyle Changes

When 48 patients with moderate to severe coronary artery disease were randomized into either an intensive lifestyle change group (the changes included a 100% whole foods vegetarian diet, aerobic exercise, stress management training - imagery, meditation and yoga - and group psychosocial support.) or a usual-care control group, and both groups were studied at the 5-year follow up with coronary arteriography, the experimental group far exceeded the most optimistic expectations for improvement.

15 Aug

Preliminary findings are in from Traci Stein, MPH, Director of The Columbia Integrative Medicine Program and whiz statistician, Peri Nemerow, both from Mehmet Oz’s group at Columbia Presbyterian.

They tested out our new guided imagery for cardiac ICU & cardiac rehab on 20 patients (average age = 63) who’d undergone by-pass, valve replacement and transplant surgeries, and surveyed them for feedback on the imagery.

It turned out that 90% liked listening to the tape; 79% would recommend the tape to a friend; 71% thought it made their hospital stay more pleasant; 83.3 % felt it increased their appreciation for being alive; 80% thought it helped them to better savor the things that they loved; 80% thought it gave them confidence they would regain their strength; 66.7% said it made them feel more positively about their scars; 75% felt it made them less depressed; and 80% felt it made them more relaxed.

15 Aug

Well, the first round of Mitch Krucoff’s and Suzanne Crater’s MANTRA prayer study has been collated and published. The results, even in pilot form, are intriguing. The Duke University randomized clinical trials examined the effects of applying 4 CAM therapies - stress relaxation, imagery, touch therapy, and prayer - to cardiac patients in acute coronary intervention settings, such as the angiography lab – to measure their effects on short- and long-term procedural outcomes, including mortality.

150 Patients were randomized across 5 treatment groups: the 4 noetic conditions and standard care. Records were checked for post-procedure ischemia, death, myocardial infarction, heart failure, and urgent revascularization. Mortality was followed up for 6 months after hospitalization. Although results were not statistically significant because of the low numbers in each condition, there was a 25% to 30% absolute reduction in adverse effects in patients treated with any of the noetic therapies, as compared to standard therapy. And the lowest complication rates of all were observed in patients assigned to off-site prayer.

15 Aug

In 1998, a research team led by Linda Halpin at the Inova Heart Center of Inova Fairfax Hospital compared cardiac surgical outcomes between two groups of heart patients - with and without guided imagery. A questionnaire was developed to assess the benefits of the guided imagery program to those who elected to participate in it, and, in addition, data from the hospital financial cost-accounting database were collected and matched to the two groups of patients.

Analysis of the data revealed that patients who completed the guided imagery program had a shorter average length of stay, a decrease in average direct pharmacy costs, and a decrease in average direct pain medication costs while maintaining high overall patient satisfaction with the care and treatment provided.

Guided imagery is now used as a standard, complementary therapy to help reduce anxiety, pain, and length of stay among the cardiac surgery patients at Inova Fairfax.

Citation: Halpin LS, Speir AM, CapoBianco P, Barnett SD. Guided imagery in cardiac surgery. Outcomes in Management & Nursing Practice, 2002 Jul-Sep;6(3):132-7.
15 Aug

Essential hypertension and stress. When do yoga, psychotherapy and autogenic training help?

Another summary article from Germany by J.M. Hermann reports on the effectiveness of relaxation techniques, behavioral therapy and biofeedback for hypertension and stress, stating that these techniques lower elevated blood pressure by an average of 10 mmHg (systolic) and 5 mmHg (diastolic). Further, as a "secondary effect", these measures frequently prompt the hypertensive patient to adopt a more health-conscious lifestyle.

Citation: J. M. Hermann. Essential hypertension and stress. When do yoga, psychotherapy and autogenic training help? MMW Fortschr Med 2002 May 9;144(19):38-41.

15 Aug

A special report published in Circulation by the American Heart Association, The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine examines the impact of mind-body techniques, and, because it is seen as the most widely researched method, Transcendental Medititation on Heart Disease.

The report states that the first major study to show that TM could reduce blood pressure was conducted by Robert Schneider with a population of hypertensive African Americans. In addition, this study showed that the technique had high cultural acceptability and compliance in a high-risk minority population.

15 Aug

A randomized controlled trial compared a group of bulimic patients receiving 6 weeks of individual guided imagery therapy with a control group receiving standard care. Fifty participants who met the criteria for bulimia nervosa completed the study. Measures of eating disorder symptoms, psychological functioning and the response to the guided imagery experience were used. The guided imagery treatment substantially reduced bingeing and purging episodes; the imagery group had a 74% mean reduction of bingeing and a 73% reduction of vomiting. The imagery treatment also demonstrated improvement in attitudes about eating, dieting and body weight in comparison to the control group. In addition, the guided imagery group demonstrated improvement on psychological measures of aloneness and the ability for self-comforting. The study concludes that guided imagery is an effective treatment for bulimia nervosa, at least in the short-term.

Citation: Esplen MJ, Garfinkel PE, Olmsted M, Gallop RM, Kennedy S. A randomized controlled trial of guided imagery in bulimia nervosa.Psychol Med 1998 Nov;28(6):1347-57.
15 Aug

Researchers from the Eating Disorders Research Program at the University of Minnesota examined long-term outcomes of cognitive behavioral therapy, delivered 3 different ways to 51 people suffering from a binge eating disorder.

There was a therapist-led condition, where the psychologist provided psycho-educational information for the first half hour and led a group discussion for the second half hour of each session; there was a partial self-help condition, where participants viewed a 30-min psycho-educational videotape, followed by a therapist-led discussion; and finally, there was a structured self-help condition, where participants watched a psycho-educational videotape and led their own discussion.
15 Aug

In a huge study by Duke’s John Barefoot, PhD and his team, 1250 cardiac patients with coronary artery disease were assessed over a span of nearly 20 years for their levels of depression, to see if the degree of depression correlated in any way with mortality rates, and, if so, which features packed an especially mean punch. (Other research had already established the connection between depression and heart disease, but this study was designed to tease out what elements did the damage.)

The study showed that depressive symptoms did indeed predict survival. The risk of death increased by 40% for patients with negative affect, which meant downheartedness, sadness, irritability and restlessness. When negative affect was found in younger patients - under 51 mortality risk increased to a whopping 70%.

The other potent predictor of mortality was hopelessness.

Citation: Barefoot J, et al. Depressive symptoms and survival of patients with coronary artery disease. Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine. 2000 Nov-Dec; 62(6):790-5