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Mindfulness ‘improves quality of life in heart attack survivors’


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THE findings of a new study announced last month has found that an eight-week programme of mindfulness meditation improves quality of life and reduces fear of activity in heart attack patients.

DR CANAN KARADAS: “The results are very encouraging.” (Photo: European Society of Cardiology. escardio.org)

  

DR CANAN KARADAS: “The results
are very encouraging.”
(Photo: European Society of Cardiology.
escardio.org)

The results were presented at Acute CardioVascular Care 2021, an online scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology.

The society brings together health care professionals from more than 150 countries, working to advance cardiovascular medicine and help people lead longer, healthier lives.

“A heart attack is a serious life-threatening event and survivors can suffer from low quality of life,” said study author Dr Canan Karadas, of Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey.

“One reason is a fear of movement, called kinesiophobia, which limits daily activity due to concerns of another heart attack.

“Mindfulness refers to the mental state achieved by focusing awareness on the present moment, including thoughts, feelings and physical sensations.

“It has drawn increasing attention for treating chronic conditions such as high blood pressure. Our study examined its effect on fatigue, kinesiophobia and quality of life after an acute myocardial infarction (a heart attack).”

The study included 56 patients who had experienced a heart attack. At enrolment, their average age was 55 years.

Participants were randomly assigned to a mindfulness or control group for eight weeks.

Patients in the control group attended one fifteen-minute individual education session on the structure and function of the heart, the coronary arteries and diseases of the heart.

Those assigned to the mindfulness group attended an individual session, which included a fifteen-minute description of the technique.

This was followed by fifteen minutes of supervision when patients were asked to sit comfortably on a chair with their backs straight and eyes closed.

They were then instructed to breathe deeply, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth using the diaphragm, and focus on their breathing and the present moment.

"Mindfulness refers to the mental state achieved by focusing awareness on the present moment, including thoughts, feelings and physical sensations."

"Mindfulness refers to the mental state achieved by
focusing awareness on the present moment, includ
-ing thoughts, feelings and physical sensations."
 

    

Participants received a recording of the instructions via WhatsApp and were asked to repeat the fifteen-minute mindfulness session every day at home in a quiet room.

Daily reminders via text messages or phone calls were used to motivate patients to continue the meditation and to evaluate their compliance with the study protocol.

Fatigue, kinesiophobia and quality of life were assessed at the start and then after four, eight and twelve weeks.

A heart disease health-related quality of life questionnaire examined patients’ feelings about how their heart condition affected their daily function in three areas – physically, emotionally and socially.

By the fourth week, patients in the mindfulness group had less fear of movement compared to the control group, a benefit which was sustained at weeks eight and twelve.

At week eight, patients in the mindfulness group also had better quality of life overall and in all three areas compared to those in the control group.

At week twelve, they continued to report better emotional function. Measurements of fatigue did not vary between the two groups at any point.

“Our study shows that mindfulness can reduce fear of movement and improve quality of life in heart attack survivors, with effects extending beyond the completion of the intervention,” said Dr Karadas.

“One explanation may be that meditation replaces catastrophic thinking with positive thoughts, making patients feel less emotionally and physically vulnerable.

“The findings suggest that mindfulness may be considered in the rehabilitation of patients after a heart attack.

“These results are very encouraging, but more studies are needed to confirm our findings.”


meditate meditation woman mountains nature relax-stock pic


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