Mind-body medicine (MBM) is a holistic approach that has the potential to ward off more heart attacks than conventional prevention programs. That is the conclusion reached by Holger Cramer and colleagues in a systematic review and meta-analysis presented in the latest issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2015; 112: 759-67). They show that MBM in cardiac patients has a positive effect on coronary events, atherosclerosis, and high blood pressure.
Three of the most important risk factors for coronary heart disease--lack of exercise, overweight, and stress--are amenable to intervention. While conventional preventive measures concentrate on exercise and advice on nutrition, MBM also embraces relaxation methods and psychological motivation techniques. In the studies analyzed by Cramer et al., coronary events occurred in 68 of 307 patients who received conventional interventions but in only half as many--33/308--of those on MBM prevention programs. The authors point out that despite this positive effect MBM does not decrease mortality in cardiac patients. Nevertheless, the lower incidence of coronary events is beneficial. They therefore endorse MBM or other comparable programs for lifestyle modification.