Last updated on March 2012

Stress Reduction Program to Reduce Abnormal Heart Rhythms Treated With Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (The RISTA Study)


Brief description of study

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a small device that is implanted in the chest and uses electrical shocks to control arrhythmias, which are abnormal heart rhythms. Arrhythmias can be caused by many factors, including stress and anger. This study will evaluate the use of a stress reduction treatment (SRT) program aimed at reducing the occurrence of arrhythmias that require treatment with an ICD shock.

Detailed Study Description

An ICD is a device designed to quickly detect a life-threatening, rapid heartbeat. Through a process called defibrillation, the ICD tries to convert an abnormal heart rhythm back to normal by delivering an electrical shock to the heart. The ICD continuously monitors heartbeats to ensure that they are normal, and it only delivers a shock to the heart when it senses a life-threatening arrhythmia. Because of the recent funding approval by Medicaid, it is now estimated that more than 500,000 people will receive ICDs annually. Although ICDs are life-saving medical devices, some people may experience anxiety, depression, and impaired quality of life as a result of the repeated ICD shocks. Additionally, increased mental and emotional stress and anger may increase the likelihood of experiencing more arrhythmias requiring an ICD shock. SRT programs that encourage people to manage their emotions may decrease the frequency of arrhythmias. Furthermore, SRT programs have been shown to be successful at reducing other stress-related heart conditions. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of an SRT program at reducing the incidence of ICD shock-treated arrhythmias among people with newly implanted ICDs. This study will enroll people who have recently received an ICD. Initially, participants will complete questionnaires about mood and attitudes. Next, at a baseline study visit, participants will complete a mental stress exercise in which they will perform math problems and describe an experience that made them angry. During this exercise, participants will undergo blood pressure measurements, blood collection, and an electrocardiogram (EKG) to measure electrical activity of the heart. Participants will also wear a monitor for 24 hours after the study visit to record heart activity. Participants will then be randomly assigned to either take part in the SRT group and receive usual care or only receive usual care. For 10 weeks, participants in the SRT group will attend 8 group sessions that will focus on learning and applying stress reduction techniques to everyday living. All participants will attend a 3-month follow-up visit for repeat baseline testing. At Months 6, 12, and 24, participants will complete questionnaires during routine doctor's visits or by mail.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT00627263

Contact Investigators or Research Sites near you

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Matthew M. Burg, PhD

Yale University Medical School
New Haven, CT United States
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Recruitment Status: Open


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