There is increasing evidence that mindfulness can reduce stress, and thereby affect other psychological and physiological outcomes as well. Earlier, we reported the direct 3-month results of an online modified mindfulness-based stress reduction training in patients with heart disease, and now we evaluate the effect at 12-month follow-up. 324 patients (mean age 43.2 years, 53.7% male) were randomized in a 2:1 ratio to additional 3-month online mindfulness training or to usual care alone. The primary outcome was exercise capacity measured with the 6 minute walk test (6MWT). Secondary outcomes were blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, NT-proBNP, cortisol levels (scalp hair sample), mental and physical functioning (SF-36), anxiety and depression (HADS), perceived stress (PSS), and social support (PSSS12). Differences between groups on the repeated outcome measures were analyzed with linear mixed models. At 12-months follow-up, participants showed a trend significant improvement exercise capacity (6MWT: 17.9 meters, p = 0.055) compared to UC. Cohen's D showed significant but small improvement on exercise capacity (d = 0.22; 95%CI 0.05 to 0.39), systolic blood pressure (d = 0.19; 95%CI 0.03 to 0.36), mental functioning (d = 0.22; 95%CI 0.05 to 0.38) and depressive symptomatology (d = 0.18; 95%CI 0.02 to 0.35). All other outcome measures did not change statistically significantly. In the as-treated analysis, systolic blood pressure decreased significantly with 5.5 mmHg (p = 0.045; d = 0.23 (95%CI 0.05-0.41)). Online mindfulness training shows favorable albeit small long-term effects on exercise capacity, systolic blood pressure, mental functioning, and depressive symptomatology in patients with heart disease and might therefore be a beneficial addition to current clinical care.

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Journal PLoS ONE
Gotink, R.A, Younge, J.O, Wery, M.F, Utens, E.M.W.J, Michels, M, Rizopoulos, D, … Hunink, M.M.G. (Myriam M.G.). (2017). Online mindfulness as a promising method to improve exercise capacity in heart disease: 12-month follow-up of a randomized controlled trial. PLoS ONE, 12(5). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0175923