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Open Access Open Badges Research

Behavioral interventions for coronary heart disease patients

Kristina Orth-Gomér

Author Affiliations

Dept of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm Sweden

BioPsychoSocial Medicine 2012, 6:5  doi:10.1186/1751-0759-6-5

Published: 2 February 2012



There is a strong clinical need to provide effective stress reduction programs for patients with an acute coronary syndrome. Such programs for men have been implemented and their cardiovascular health benefit documented. For women such programs are scarce.

In this report, The feasibility of a cognitive method that was recently demonstrated to prolong lives of women is tested. A setting with gender segregated groups was applied.


The principles of a behavioural health educational program originally designed to attenuate the stress of patients with coronary prone behaviours were used as a basis for the intervention method. For the groups of female patients this method was tailored according to female stressors and for the groups of men according to male stressors. The same core stress reduction program was used for women and men, but the contents of discussions and responses to the pre planned program varied. These were continuously monitored throughout the fifteen sessions. Implementation group: Thirty consecutive patients, eleven women and nineteen men, hospitalized for an acute coronary syndrome were included in this intervention. All expressed their need to learn how to cope with stress in daily life and were highly motivated. Five groups, three groups of men and two groups of women were formed. Psychological assessments were made immediately before and after completion of the program.


No gender differences in the pre planned programs were found, but discussion styles varied between the women and men, Women were more open and more personal. Family issues were more frequent than job issues, although all women were employed outside their homes. Men talked about concrete and practical things, mostly about their jobs, and not directly about their feelings. Daily stresses of life decreased significantly for both men and women, but more so for women. Depressive thoughts were low at baseline, and there was no change over time. In contrast, anxiety scores were high at baseline and decreased significantly, but more so for women than for men.


Women are likely to benefit from women's groups. Men may prefer to have one or two women in the group, but women fare better in gender segregated groups.