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December 1977

Psychological Treatment of Cardiovascular Disease

Author Affiliations

From the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences, Memphis.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1977;34(12):1402-1413. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1977.01770240028002

• Recent clinical research on the psychological treatment of cardiovascular diseases is reviewed in four categories: hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, coronary artery disease, and peripheral circulatory disease. In the treatment of hypertension biofeedback of blood pressure, electromyography and galvanic skin responses both seem useful, as does systematic relaxation training of either an active or passive-meditative nature. Biofeedback of heart rate has shown some utility in treating premature ventricular contractions and sinus tachycardia. Supportive and educational group therapy for patients recovering from myocardial infarctions has shown some utility. In the treatment of Raynaud's disease, biofeedback of skin temperature is helpful.

In no area has a large scale clinical trial been conducted, and only three controlled group outcome studies have been reported (two in hypertension, one in coronary artery disease). Overall, the evidence is impressive enough to warrant more systematic controlled investigation in all four areas.