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Stress management training of elderly patients with congestive heart failure.

15 Aug

A controlled pilot study of stress management training of elderly patients with congestive heart failure.

Researchers at the Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention evaluated the effects of stress management on the quality of life, functional capacity, and heart rate variability in a pilot study of 33 elderly patients with New York Heart Association class I-III congestive heart failure. Subjects were randomized to one of two treatment groups or a wait-listed control group. The 14 participants who completed the treatment attended eight training sessions during a 10-week period. The training consisted of 75-minute sessions adapted from the Freeze-Frame stress management program developed by the Institute of HeartMath. (This is a very simple and easy to use formula for stress relief, using relaxation and imagery.) Subjects were assessed at baseline and again at the completion of the training. Depression, stress management, optimism, anxiety, emotional distress, and functional capacity were evaluated, as well as heart rate variability. Significant improvements (p<0.05) were noted in perceived stress, emotional distress, 6-minute walk, and depression, and positive trends were noted in each of the other psychosocial measures. The 24-hour heart rate variability showed no significant changes in autonomic tone. The authors noted that CHF patients were willing study participants and their emotional coping and functional capacity were enhanced. They concluded that this program offered a simple and cost-effective way to augment medical management of CHF. Given the incompleteness of CHF medical management and the exploding interest in complementary medical intervention, they recommended that further work in psychosocial treatment be undertaken.

Citation: Luskin F, Reitz M, Newell K, Quinn TG, Haskell W. A controlled pilot study of stress management training of elderly patients with congestive heart failure. Preventive Cardiology 2002 Fall; Issue 5 (Volume 4): pp. 168-72.

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