Effects of Stress Management Training and Dietary Changes in Treating Ischemic Heart Disease

Published in Journal of the American Medical Association

Authors: Ornish D, Scherwitz LW, Doody RS, Kesten D, McLanahan SM, Brown SE, DePuey E, Sonnemaker R, Haynes C, Lester J, McAllister GK, Hall RJ, Burdine JA, Gotto AM Jr.

Objective: The objective of this study is to evaluate the short-term effects of an intervention that consists of stress management training and dietary changes in patients with ischemic heart disease (IHD).

Method: We compared the cardiovascular status of 23 patients who received this intervention with a randomized control group of 23 patient who did not.

Results: After 24 days, patients in the experimental group demonstrated a 44% mean increase in duration of exercise, a 55% mean increase in total work performed, somewhat improved left ventricular regional wall motion during peak exercise, and a net change in the left ventricular ejection fraction from rest to maximum exercise of +6.4%. Also, we measured a 20.5% mean decrease in plasma cholesterol levels and a 91.0% mean reduction in frequency of anginal episodes.

Conclusion: In this selected sample, short-term improvements in cardiovascular status seem to result from these adjuncts to conventional treatments of IHD.

Key Takeaways:

  • Patients that were part of a short-term 24 day heart disease treatment program that focused on stress management training and dietary changes displayed significant improvements in exercise ability and heart function, when compared to patients not in the program.
  • Treated patients showed a 44% average increase in duration of exercise, a 55% average increase in total work performed, significant increase in heart ejection function, and a 91% average reduction in angina episode frequency.
  • Stress management and dietary changes can have a significant positive impact on ischemic heart disease patients, over and above the benefits of conventional ischemic heart disease treatments.
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