Mind and body interventions in cardiology : The importance of the brain-heart connection

Author: Julia Lurz1, Karl-Heinz Ladwig2,3
Affiliation: <sup>1</sup> Abteilung für Rhythmologie, Herzzentrum Leipzig, Strümpellstr. 39, 04289, Leipzig, Germany. julia.lurz@medizin.uni-leipzig.de. <sup>2</sup> Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany. <sup>3</sup> German Centre for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK), Partner site Munich Heart Alliance, Munich, Germany.
Conference/Journal: Herz
Date published: 2022 Apr 1
Other: Volume ID: 47 , Issue ID: 2 , Pages: 103-109 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1007/s00059-022-05104-y. , Word Count: 204

Mind and body interventions aim to harness the "relaxation response", reduce stress, and improve quality of life, which is important in the search for more holistic treatment approaches in cardiovascular medicine. This article describes the pertinent pathophysiological correlates building the mechanistic backbone for these interventions. They can be found in the complex connections of brain and heart (central and autonomic nervous system, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis), which play an important role in the development of various cardiovascular disease conditions and hold potential as therapeutic targets. The evidence regarding the effect of mind and body interventions in cardiology with a focus on arrhythmia and psychocardiology is reviewed systematically. To date, mostly small pilot studies prone to substantial bias and without adequate power have dominated the field and longer-term outcome data are lacking. Ultimately, integration of mind and body interventions could empower patients by strengthening their individual responsibility and mental power in addition to the benefits of stress reduction and improvement of quality of life. Whether this will translate into relevant longer-term clinical outcomes remains uncertain. Therefore, this field offers multifaceted opportunities for further research and practical applications.

Keywords: Arrhythmia; Autonomic nervous system; Brain–heart axis; Patient engagement; Psychocardiology; Relaxation response; Stress.

PMID: 35292838 DOI: 10.1007/s00059-022-05104-y