Biofeedback in the treatment of heart disease

Cleve Clin J Med. 2011 Aug;78 Suppl 1:S20-3. doi: 10.3949/ccjm.78.s1.03.


Biofeedback is a method of training subjects to regulate their own physiology using feedback from physiologic sensors connected to an output display. Biofeedback-assisted stress management (BFSM) incorporates the physiologic signals with instructions on stress management. The goal of BFSM training is to give subjects the tools to control their own mental and physiologic reactions, leading to improved health and wellness. In cardiovascular disease, overactivation of the sympathetic component of the autonomic nervous system and psychologic stress together negatively affect quality of life and clinical status. BFSM targets both areas. We hypothesize that this intervention can be used in cardiovascular disease to improve clinical status and quality of life, as well as interfere with disease progression. We are conducting trials of BFSM in heart failure and stable coronary artery disease. Preliminary data suggest that use of BFSM by heart failure patients may actually cause cellular and molecular remodeling of the failing heart in the direction of normal. We are comparing the effects of BFSM with usual care in patients with stable coronary artery disease, testing the hypothesis that the intervention will decrease both sympathetic hyperarousal and activation of the inflammatory cascade. Since heart rate variability is abnormal in both cardiovascular disease and depression, and since BFSM has been successfully used to change heart rate variability, we also expect this intervention to have a positive impact on the depression that often accompanies cardiovascular disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / psychology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / therapy
  • Coronary Artery Disease / psychology
  • Coronary Artery Disease / therapy
  • Disease Management
  • Disease Progression
  • Heart Diseases / prevention & control
  • Heart Diseases / psychology
  • Heart Diseases / therapy*
  • Heart Failure / psychology
  • Heart Failure / therapy
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Neurofeedback / methods*
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*