Improve Quality of Life after a Heart Attack with Mindfulness
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“Not only can meditation improve how your heart functions, but a regular practice can enhance your outlook on life and motivate you to maintain many heart-healthy behaviors.” – John Denninger
Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer. A myriad of treatments has been developed including a variety of surgical procedures and medications. In addition, lifestyle changes have proved to be effective including quitting smoking, weight reduction, improved diet, physical activity, and reducing stresses. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, 60% of cardiovascular disease patients decline participation, making these patients at high risk for another attack.
Contemplative practices have been shown to be safe and effective alternative treatments for cardiovascular disease. Practices such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have been shown to be helpful for heart health and to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. They have also been shown to be effective in maintaining cardiovascular health and the treatment of cardiovascular disease.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a mindfulness-based psychotherapy technique that is employs many of the techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). ACT focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes. So, it makes sense to study the efficacy of ACT for patients recovering from a heart attack.
In today’s Research News article “The Effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy on Quality of Life in a Patient with Myocardial Infarction: A Randomized Control Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7193234/), Ghahnaviyeh and colleagues recruited patients over 30 years of age who had had a myocardial infarction. They were randomly assigned to either receive 8 weekly 90 minute sessions of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) or to a treatment as usual control condition. They were measured before and after therapy and 6 months later for health status and quality of life.
They found that after therapy and 6 months later the group that received Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) had significantly greater overall quality of life including significantly greater physical and psychological quality of life. These results suggest that ACT improves the quality of life of patients having had myocardial infarction. It remains for future research to determine the mechanisms of these effects of ACT.
So, improve quality of life after a heart attack with mindfulness.
“this practice may be clinically useful in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.” – Heart Matters
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Ahmadi Ghahnaviyeh, L., Bagherian, B., Feizi, A., Afshari, A., & Mostafavi Darani, F. (2020). The Effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy on Quality of Life in a Patient with Myocardial Infarction: A Randomized Control Trial. Iranian journal of psychiatry, 15(1), 1–9.
Objective: Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) interventions increase psychological flexibility and improve mental health and quality of life in patients with myocardial infarction.
Study design: A controlled clinical trial study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of an ACT intervention in improving the quality of life in patients with MI in Isfahan, Iran.
Method : The present controlled clinical trial with a pre and post-test design was conducted on a statistical population consisting of patients with MI admitted to hospitals in Isfahan (n = 60) who were selected through sequential sampling based on the study inclusion criteria and were randomly divided into an intervention and a control group (n1 = n2 = 30). The case group received 8 weekly 90-minute sessions of ACT and the control group received no interventions. The pretest-posttest design was administered in both groups using a demographic questionnaire and the Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire (MLHFQ) designed to assess the health status of patients with heart failure in terms of quality of life. The data obtained were analyzed in SPSS-20 using descriptive statistics and the ANCOVA.
Results: In this study, 2 general areas of quality of life, including physical and mental health, were examined in the patients. There was a significant increase in the quality of life and subscales of mental and physical health in the experimental group (p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Considering the effectiveness of ACT in improving quality of life in these patients, this method of intervention can be used as a complementary therapy in health care centers to reduce the side-effects experienced by these patients.