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SMART heart eases heart ache, targets cardiac patients' emotional well-being
Date:4/12/2012

CHICAGOTwo years ago, 57-year-old Allus Brown underwent a simultaneous heart-kidney transplant and spent months in and out of the hospital after battling dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition that enlarges and weakens the heart. Now fully recovered, Brown is still in and out of Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute each week. Only nowadays when he visits, he's laughing it up, playing board games, and sharing accounts of his own struggles with heart disease as part of the Bluhm Institute's new and innovative program, SMART Heart, stress management and recreational therapy for heart patients. Brown says he thrives in his new role because it's one way he can give back and help others coping with the emotional aftermath of cardiac surgery.

"What I like most about being a SMART heart volunteer is that it truly focuses on being happy and doing things that can bring about happiness," says Brown, a Marine Corps veteran and former athlete.

According to Kim Feingold, PhD, director of Cardiac Behavioral Medicine at Northwestern's Bluhm Institute, most cardiac programs only focus on the physical aspects of recovery following heart surgery. But an emotional comeback is just as important.

"Few people recognize the significant psychological burden associated with heart surgery," she says. "Two out of five cardiac patients are clinically depressed, which makes them less likely to comply with recommended care and puts them at significant risk for complications, even death."

SMART Heart focuses on improving quality of life and the management of stress for cardiac surgical patients. The program incorporates games, movies, books and other entertainment activities into patients' hospital stays following heart surgery. The goal is to spark relaxation, laughter and enjoyment for these patients as a way to help fend-off the onset of psychological illnesses like depression, anxiety and stress, which are quite common amon
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Contact: Colleen Sheehan
csheehan@nmh.org
312-926-7769
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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