Reduction in 2-Year Recurrent Risk Score and Improved Behavioral Outcomes After Participation in the “Beating Heart Problems” Self-management Program: RESULTS OF A RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

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While behavior change can improve risk factor profiles and prognosis after an acute cardiac event, patients need assistance to achieve sustained lifestyle changes. We developed the “Beating Heart Problems” cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing program to support patients to develop behavioral and cognitive self-management skills. We report the results of a randomized controlled trial of the program.


Patients (n = 275) consecutively admitted to 2 Melbourne hospitals after acute myocardial infarction (32%), coronary artery bypass graft surgery (40%), or percutaneous coronary intervention (28%) were randomized to treatment (T; n = 139) or control (C; n = 136). T group patients were invited to participate in the 8-week group-based program. Patients underwent risk factor screening 6 weeks after hospital discharge (before randomization) and again 4 and 12 months later. At both the followups, T and C groups were compared on 2-year risk of a recurrent cardiac event and key behavioral outcomes, using both intention-to-treat and “completers only” analyses.


Patients ranged in age from 32 to 75 years (mean = 59.0 years; SD – 9.1 years). Most patients (86%) were men. Compared with the C group patients, T group patients tended toward greater reduction in 2-year risk, at both the 4- and 12-month followups. Significant benefits in dietary fat intake and functional capacity were also evident.


The “Beating Heart Problems” program showed modest but important benefit over usual care at 4 and, to a lesser extent, 12 months. Modifications to the program such as the inclusion of booster sessions and translation to online delivery are likely to improve outcomes.

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