Cognitive-behavioral therapy, with a focus on stress management, is associated with fewer recurrent cardiovascular events in patients with coronary heart disease, according to an Archives of Internal Medicine study.
Some 350 adults who had recently had a coronary heart disease event were randomized to either usual care alone or usual care plus cognitive-behavioral therapy. Psychologists and nurses led 20 2-hour group sessions over 1 year. The therapy emphasized ways to reduce daily stress, time urgency, and hostility.
Over 8 years' follow-up, the intervention group experienced 41% fewer first recurrent cardiovascular events and 45% fewer recurrent myocardial infarctions, compared with the control group. All-cause mortality did not differ significantly between groups.
The authors speculate that the CBT group may have reduced their behavioral and emotional reactivity, "which would lead to less psychophysiologic burden on the cardiovascular system." They estimate that roughly 10 people would need to be treated in order to prevent one cardiovascular event.