February 22, 1971

Psychological Hazards of Convalescence Following Myocardial Infarction

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

JAMA. 1971;215(8):1292-1296. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03180210038007

Emotional problems during convalescence from myocardial infarction seriously hamper rehabilitation and the return to work. Of the 24 patients studied, 21 rated themselves as anxious or depressed and 18 were judged by the examiner to require either a tranquilizer or antidepressant. Sleep disturbances occurred in 15 patients and disruptive family quarrels over aspects of convalescence took place in 18 cases. There was a uniform tendency to avoid taking sedatives, to minimize symptoms during follow-up examinations, and to retain harmful habits. Eleven patients did not return to work, nine for psychological reasons, and those who did resume part or full-time employment experienced anxiety or augmentation of angina or dyspnea or both. Suggestions are offered which may help to lessen the emotional hazards of convalescence.