Background: Psychosocial factors are independently associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) morbidity and mortality, but the effects of psychosocial factor intervention on CVD are uncertain. We performed a randomized controlled clinical trial of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to measure its effects on CVD recurrence.
Methods: The study included 362 women and men 75 years or younger who were discharged from the hospital after a coronary heart disease event within the past 12 months. Patients were randomized to receive traditional care (reference group, 170 patients) or traditional care plus a CBT program (intervention group, 192 patients), focused on stress management, with 20 two-hour sessions during 1 year. Median attendance at each CBT session was 85%. Outcome variables were all-cause mortality, hospital admission for recurrent CVD, and recurrent acute myocardial infarction.
Results: During a mean 94 months of follow-up, the intervention group had a 41% lower rate of fatal and nonfatal first recurrent CVD events (hazard ratio [95% confidence interval], 0.59 [0.42-0.83]; P = .002), 45% fewer recurrent acute myocardial infarctions (0.55 [0.36-0.85]; P = .007), and a nonsignificant 28% lower all-cause mortality (0.72 [0.40-1.30]; P = .28) than the reference group after adjustment for other outcome-affecting variables. In the CBT group there was a strong dose-response effect between intervention group attendance and outcome. During the first 2 years of follow-up, there were no significant group differences in traditional risk factors.
Conclusions: A CBT intervention program decreases the risk of recurrent CVD and recurrent acute myocardial infarction. This may have implications for secondary preventive programs in patients with coronary heart disease. Trial Registration clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00888485.