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A relaxation response randomized trial on patients with chronic heart failure.

07 Nov

Researchers at the Bedford, Massachusetts V.A. Medical Center find that training patients suffering from moderate to severe heart failure to use the Relaxation Response improves quality of life but not exercise capacity.

Researchers at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital at the Bedford, Massachusetts V.A., tested the efficacy of teaching the Relaxation Response to patients with chronic heart failure (CRF), measuring effects on quality of life (QOL), and exercise capacity.

Between April 2000 and June 2002, 95 patients with moderate to severe CRF were enrolled in this single-blind, 3-arm, randomized, controlled trial. Patients in the intervention group attended a weekly RR group for 15 weeks, and were requested to practice the techniques at home twice a day.

A 15-week cardiac education (EDU) program was used as an alternate intervention, and usual care (UC) was the control group. The QOL questionnaires and a bicycle test were administered at baseline and either after the intervention or at 15 to 19 weeks.

Eighty-three (87%) of the 95 enrolled patients completed both baseline and post-intervention QOL measures (31 RR, 24 EDU, and 28 UC). No dropout bias was observed. The RR group had significantly better QOL change scores in peace-spiritual scales than did the UC group (P = .02), adjusting for baseline scores, time between assessments, age, education, diet, and medication, whereas no significant difference was observed between the EDU and UC groups. A similar trend was observed in emotional QOL (RR and UC group comparison, P = .07).

There was no statistically significant effect found on physical QOL nor exercise capacity. The study concluded that a short RR intervention can improve some aspects of QOL in CHF patients.

Citation: Chang BH, Hendricks A, Zhao Y, Rothendler JA, LoCastro JS, Slawsky MT. A relaxation response randomized trial on patients with chronic heart failure. Journal of Cardiopulmonology and Rehabilitation. 2005 May-Jun; 25 (3): Pages 149-57. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award