BACKGROUND: Evaluating the independent effects of psychosocial and physiological factors on survival of cardiac patients is difficult because it requires obtaining extensive physiological and psychosocial data and long-term follow-up of high-risk patients. OBJECTIVES: To examine the independent contributions of psychosocial and physiological status to survival of patients who had had myocardial infarction. METHODS: The sample consisted of 348 patients in the Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial who had asymptomatic ventricular arrhythmias after myocardial infarction. Psychosocial status was assessed with the Social Support Questionnaire-6, Social Readjustment Rating Scale, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Self-Rating Depression Scale, Jenkins Activity Survey, and Expression of Anger Scale. Physiological data included measurement of left ventricular ejection fraction; history of previous myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, and diabetes; and results of Holter monitoring. RESULTS: At the first follow-up, after the effect of the physiological predictors was controlled for, psychosocial factors were significant independent predictors of survival. Among men in the nonactive medication group (n = 263), higher state anxiety, lower anger outward, more past life events, and lower expectations of future life events were predictors of mortality. Data suggested that the relationship of anger to mortality might differ for men and women. Increases in past life events and depression from baseline to first follow-up were greater among those who died than among those who lived. CONCLUSION: Among patients who had asymptomatic ventricular arrhythmias after myocardial infarction, psychological status during the period after infarction contributed to mortality beyond the effect of physiological status. The results reaffirm the critical interrelationship between mind and body for cardiovascular health.
BACKGROUND: Care of patients with ventricular arrhythmia after myocardial infarction requires careful nursing management, including assisting with arrhythmia monitoring and testing. Because ventricular premature depolarization is a known risk factor for sudden cardiac death, it was hypothesized that the suppression of asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic ventricular premature depolarization would improve survival in these patients. OBJECTIVE: To review the Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial findings and provide implications for nursing practice for patients after myocardial infarction. METHODS: The Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial was a multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled trial designed to determine whether the suppression of ventricular premature depolarizations in postmyocardial infarction patients would improve survival. Three class I antiarrhythmic drugs were used: encainide, flecainide, or moricizine. Patients for whom the drug suppressed their arrhythmia 80% or more were randomly assigned to that drug and dose or its matching placebo and were followed every 4 months (main study). Patients with 1% to 79% suppression were randomly assigned to the drug or its placebo that best treated their arrhythmia and followed every 4 months. RESULTS: Suppression of asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic ventricular premature depolarization in patients using encainide, flecainide, or moricizine failed to improve patient survival and was even harmful in some cases. CONCLUSIONS: Our results showed that in the absence of effective antiarrhythmic drug therapy, supportive nursing care and arrhythmia monitoring is important until appropriate therapy for the management of these arrhythmias in patients who have had a myocardial infarction can be found. Clinical trials are essential to provide an evaluation of therapies and direction for further studies, as well as a basis for practicing clinicians.