Flushing, New York - A study conducted by medical professionals from the New York Hospital Queens Heart and Vascular Center demonstrates that participation in a cardiac rehabilitation program had a positive impact on depression in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD). The study will be presented today as a poster at the American Heart Association 2007 Scientific Sessions in Orlando, FL.
The findings of the study, "Cardiac Rehabilitation Reduces Depression in Coronary Heart Disease Patients” are significant as CAD patients have a high prevalence of symptoms of depression, which can have a negative impact on their health status and ability to regain a satisfying and productive lifestyle.
Jamie Foster, M.A., an exercise physiologist at the hospital"s Cardiac Health Center, will discuss the study findings at today"s Scientific Sessions poster presentations along with Donna Cheslik, R.N., M.S.N., administrative director. John P. Nicholson, M.D., medical director of the cardiac rehabilitation program, is the senior author of the study.
The AHA Scientific Sessions have been held since 1955, and the forum is considered the premier cardiovascular research and education meeting in the world, bringing together scientists, clinicians and health care professionals from across the globe to hear presentations of findings from more than 4,000 original research studies.
The three-year New York Hospital Queens study involved the assessment of 417 cardiac rehabilitation patients using scientifically validated criteria to identify those who scored positively for depression. One group of patients was enrolled in cardiac rehabilitation; the other group received anti-depressant drugs as well as cardiac rehabilitation. The research found that both groups significantly improved their depression scores (8.1±3.9 to 3.5±3.7, p<0.0001 in the cardiac rehab only group and 11.0±5.8 to 7.2±6.9, p<0.001 in the rehab plus medication group). The degree of improvement was essentially the same whether or not the patients were receiving anti-depressant drugs.
The significance of these findings, according to Dr. Nicholson, is that the data suggests that cardiac rehabilitation alone, without the use of anti-depressant drugs, can be effective in treating depression in the patient with coronary artery disease.
"The cumulative data and our 14-year experience at the Cardiac Health Center tell us that the exercise, lifestyle education and social atmosphere of a structured cardiac rehabilitation program all contribute to a substantial lessening of depression symptoms,” he noted. "Patients in cardiac rehabilitation receive understanding and support from the medical professionals whom they work with, and also from other patients who share their own experiences. Clearly, this is beneficial to these patients.”
Ms. Cheslik observed, "This study helps to demonstrate that this program is making the right impact at the right point in a patient"s recovery process. The program is designed to take into account their emotional needs and help them rebuild their confidence in a supportive setting. More than two-thirds of the people who enroll in the program were referred to us by current and past patients.”
The four-phase cardiac rehab program includes: Phase I, for patients who are still hospitalized after a heart attack, surgery or procedure. The outpatient component at the Cardiac Health Center includes Phase II and III, which are 12-week medically-supervised programs including monitored exercise and education including nutritional counseling, stress reduction, smoking cessation and other activities designed to reduce the patient"s risk of a heart attack and promote a healthier lifestyle. A Phase IV supervised exercise program is designed to help persons who are at high risk of cardiac disease.
The cardiac rehabilitation program, offered at the hospital"s Cardiac Health Center on Harding Expressway in Fresh Meadows, has been supporting heart patients for nearly 15 years. It is the only program in Queens to be accredited by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, and has a 98 percent satisfaction rating from the thousands of patients who participate each year. The Center also has programs open to the public, including a Comprehensive Weight Management Program and an Alternative Care Program that offers a range of services such as Tai Chi, yoga and acupuncture to complement traditional medical and surgical treatment.
New York Hospital Queens Heart & Vascular Center provides comprehensive cardiovascular services to the 2.3 million residents of Queens, where heart disease death rates are higher than the national average.
New York Hospital Queens is a member of the NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System and affiliated with the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.