Online therapy: a boon for heart patients?

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Online Therapy Helping Heart Patients

Did you know online therapy can help heart patients?

Yeah, it’s true! In a new study, patients with atrial fibrillation, a heart condition that can make the heart beat irregularly, found relief with online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

This is really cool because it’s the first time anyone’s run a controlled trial for this.

What Did They Find Out?

Well, Josefin Särnholm, a researcher and psychologist at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet, said that online CBT had some awesome effects.

It helped improve the quality of life for these patients, reduced their anxiety about their heart condition, and even led to fewer hospital visits.

The people in the trial also said they could get out more, doing things like hanging out with friends or doing some exercise. Even better, these improvements stuck around for a whole year after the treatment.

Why is This a Big Deal?

About three percent of people have atrial fibrillation. It can cause really unpleasant symptoms, like a racing heartbeat, feeling short of breath, and chest pain.

On top of that, it can make life a bit miserable. But the usual medicines to treat it don’t always help with the symptoms and can have some bad side effects.

That’s why this study is so important. Online CBT can help a lot of people, and it could be added on to the normal care for atrial fibrillation. Särnholm said this could really help to improve patients’ lives.

How Did They Do This Study?

The team studied 127 people who had intermittent symptoms from atrial fibrillation.

After checking their heart health and psychological state, the patients were randomly picked to either do online CBT for ten weeks or to learn more about their condition.

The goal of the online CBT was to reduce fear and avoidant behavior related to their heart symptoms.

The patients answered questions about their condition before, during, and three months after the treatment. The people who had the online CBT were also followed up on a year later.

What’s Next?

The researchers have another study in the works. This time, they’re looking at comparing the online CBT with a treatment focused on reducing stress.

They’re working on analyzing the data now. Särnholm also said they’re planning to start offering this treatment at Karolinska University Hospital, and they hope to make it available all over the country soon.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and scientists find how COVID-19 damages the heart.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about Aspirin linked to higher risk of heart failure, and results showing this drug could reduce heart disease, fatty liver, obesity.

The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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