Background Previous studies on cognitive and interpersonal interventions have yielded inconsistent results in ischemic heart disease patients. Methods 101 patients aged ≤ 70 years, and enrolled one week after complete revascularization with urgent/emergent angioplasty for an AMI, were randomized to standard cardiological therapy plus short-term humanistic-existential psychotherapy (STP) versus standard cardiological therapy only. Primary composite end point was: one-year incidence of new cardiological events (re-infarction, death, stroke, revascularization, life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias, and the recurrence of typical and clinically significant angina) and of clinically significant new comorbidities. Secondary end points were: rates for individual components of the primary outcome, incidence of re-hospitalizations for cardiological problems, New York Heart Association class, and psychometric test scores at follow-up. Results 94 patients were analyzed at one year. The two treatment groups were similar across all baseline characteristics. At follow-up, STP patients had had a lower incidence of the primary endpoint, relative to controls (21/49 vs. 35/45 patients; p = 0.0006, respectively; NNT = 3); this benefit was attributable to the lower incidence of recurrent angina and of new comorbidities in the STP group (14/49 vs. 22/45 patients, p = 0.04, NNT = 5; and 5/49 vs. 25/45, p < 0.0001, NNT = 3, respectively). Patients undergoing STP also had statistically fewer re-hospitalizations, a better NYHA class, higher quality of life, and lower depression scores. Conclusion Adding STP to cardiological therapy improves cardiological symptoms, quality of life, and psychological and medical outcomes one year post AMI, while reducing the need for re-hospitalizations. Larger studies remain necessary to confirm the generalizability of these results. Clinical trial registration NCT00769366

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International Journal of Cardiology
Department of Cardiology

Roncella, A., Pristipino, C., Cianfrocca, C., Scorza, S., Pasceri, P., Pelliccia, F., … Speciale, G. (2013). One-year results of the randomized, controlled, short-term psychotherapy in acute myocardial infarction (STEP-IN-AMI) trial. International Journal of Cardiology, 170(2), 132–139. doi:10.1016/j.ijcard.2013.08.094