People at high risk of heart attack had fewer problems after stress management therapy

January 27, 2011

Stress and anxiety are believed to contribute to heart disease and heart attack. But can therapy to manage stress help reduce the incidence of recurrent heart attacks and other cardiovascular events?

To answer that question, researchers in Sweden asked 362 people who had either a recent heart attack or surgery for blocked coronary arteries (bypass or percutaneous coronary intervention) to participate in a study; all were age 75 or younger. One half of the group received standard medical care, and the other half received the same care plus 20 sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) over 12 months that focused on stress management.

Eight years later, the group that participated in the therapy sessions had a 45 percent lower rate of heart attacks and a 41% lower rate of other cardiovascular events. It was also revealed that the more regularly the participants attended therapy sessions, the lower their risk of second heart attacks or other events.

Stress management is an important part of good health even for people who are not at high risk of a heart attack. If you feel that stress is taking a toll on your health, consider stress-management techniques, especially long-term cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). In this study, men and women who participated in CBT learned and practiced specific skills on coping with stress and reducing feelings of anger and hostility.


Mats Gulliksson; Gunilla Burell; Bengt Vessby; Lennart Lundin; Henrik Toss; Kurt Svärdsudd. "Randomized Controlled Trial of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy vs Standard Treatment to Prevent Recurrent Cardiovascular Events in Patients With Coronary Heart Disease: Secondary Prevention in Uppsala Primary Health Care Project (SUPRIM)." Archives of Internal Medicine, Jan 2011; 171: 134 - 140.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 28 Jan 2011

Last Modified: 15 Jan 2015