The Cardiac Behavioral Medicine team specializes in helping patients and their families adjust to a diagnosis and cope with challenges throughout the course of treatment. The team's 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.
The Northwestern Medicine Cardiac Behavioral Medicine team believes the emotional—not just the physical—well-being of our patients is critical. Many people who live with heart disease or experience a cardiac event (like a heart attack or stroke) feel stress, anxiety or depression afterward. These feelings can slow the healing process.
The S.M.A.R.T. Heart (Stress Management and Recreational Therapy for Heart Patients) program offers inpatient services for patients preparing or recovering from cardiac events. S.M.A.R.T. Heart is a comprehensive inpatient effort giving patients access to a lounge area with computers, DVD players, books, games and music. By creating a supportive atmosphere filled with fun distractions and helpful resources, S.M.A.R.T. Heart helps to:
- Reduce emotional consequences of surgery that can lead to poor recovery and prognosis
- Offer new techniques for coping and managing stress, minimizing the physiological effects of negative emotions
- Increase the presence of social support, humor, music and the arts—all of which can improve healing
- Improve quality of life and emotional functioning during prolonged hospitalizations