Study published: Patients’ experiences following a myocardial infarction


In a study recently published in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, the researchers investigate patients’ emotional reactions following a myocardial infarction. The researchers found that many participants self-managed through social withdrawal and avoidance, which can maintain anxiety and depression and thereby increase the risk for recurrent cardiac events.

Woman sitting with her back against a couch, clutching her chest.

Many patients undergo emotional distress following a myocardial infarction (MI). This can, in turn, be a risk-factor for recurrent cardiac events. The aim of this study is to investigate emotional reactions following an MI and to explore how MI patients self-manage their emotional distress. By conducting this study, the researchers hope to gain knowledge that can constitute a foundation for more effective psychological treatments.

92 individuals participated in the study, filling in a work-sheet where they described the circumstances under which the MI happened, the emotional impact of the MI and how they dealt with it, and their treatment goals. The material was analysed using a qualitative content analysis.

The researchers found that the participants experience a wide range of emotional reactions that to a varying extent affect their daily lives. In their reports, a low mood, worry, and a changed sense of self are frequently mentioned. In their attempt to handle emotional reactions, participants tend to withdraw, both socially and physically. In addition, participants also mentioned that they stopped participating in previously reinforcing recreational and leisure time activities.

The authors argue that social withdrawal and avoidance can create a vicious circle, and likely maintain the distress the participants experience in the aftermaths of an MI. The researchers highlight cognitive behavioural therapy as a suitable treatment for this group.

Read the full article ’Management of emotional distress following a myocardial infarction: a qualitative content analysis’. It is written by Thea Liljeroos, Sophia Humphries, Soorej Jose Puthoopparambil, Fredrika Norlund, and Erik Olsson.

News archive

Last modified: 2023-03-24