Cardiac Behavioral Medicine
Research shows that the mind and body are strongly linked. Patients with cardiovascular disease often experience increased stress and changes in emotional functioning throughout the course of diagnosis and treatment. In fact, two out of every five cardiac patients experience symptoms of clinical depression.
Team approach to cardiac behavioral medicine
Kim L. Feingold, PhD, director of Cardiac Behavioral Medicine, and Gail M. Osterman, PhD, specialize in helping patients and their families adjust to a diagnosis and cope with challenges throughout the course of treatment. Their techniques include strategies that encourage behavior change, improve coping strategies, minimize stress, reduce emotional distress, help with extended hospitalizations, and prepare for an upcoming procedure or surgery.
Emotional well-being is key for patients with heart disease, because depression and stress can slow healing and increase the chances of a future cardiovascular event. At Northwestern Medicine, our Cardiac Behavioral Medicine team offers inpatient and outpatient services, as well as monthly support groups for heart transplant patients.
Cardiac Behavioral Medicine approaches heart disease from a number of angles, and we offer tailored treatment in seven different areas:
- S.M.A.R.T. Heart (stress management and recreational therapy for heart patients): This comprehensive inpatient program provides a supportive atmosphere and teaches distractions and techniques for managing stress and improving the healing process.
- Depression and cardiovascular disease: Treatment of depression is common in cardiovascular patients, and when left untreated, it can lead to increased hospitalizations and even death.
- Anxiety and cardiovascular disease: A treatment which helps cardiac patients deal with feelings of loss of control. We help patients reduce symptoms like loss of sleep, irritability and fatigue, all of which slow the healing process.
- Stress and cardiovascular disease: Stress reduction is essential to good cardiac health. The physical symptoms of stress—including high blood pressure and heart rate—can lead to heart disease and heart attacks.
- Lifestyle behaviors: Modification of lifestyle behaviors, which include following a healthy diet and quitting smoking. We know change can be hard, so we offer instruction and guidance on learning new habits.
- Preparing for and recovery from surgery: Experiencing a life-changing event like heart surgery causes many new emotions and challenges. Our team is with patients every step of the way to ensure a successful healing process.
- Recovery after a cardiac event: A heart attack isn’t just a shock to your body; it can affect many areas of your life and well-being. We work with patients on strategies to cope with stress and negative emotions—and make a plan for a healthy future.