Study Evaluates Impact Of Anger Management On Coronary Artery Disease
New York, NY, July 2002– People who often feel frustrated or irritated, are easily angered, and frequently lose their temper may be at higher risk for developing coronary artery disease. Researchers at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center have launched a study to investigate whether a brief psychological therapy program known to be effective for reducing angry feelings and reactions can improve heart rate characteristics, reducing the risk for coronary artery disease. “Our study is looking at the effects of anger-reduction treatment on the brain’s control of heart rate,” says Richard Sloan, Ph.D., professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and principal investigator of the study. “We believe that cognitive behavioral treatment can effectively reduce a person’s risk for coronary artery disease.” The study, involving a 12-week anger reduction treatment program, is recruiting women and men age 20-45 from the New York City metropolitan area. Participants complete four questionnaires and a 10-minute interview to assess anger and related personality traits. Individuals who demonstrate high levels of anger are randomly assigned to two groups: one beginning cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT) immediately and the other beginning CBT 12 weeks later. Both groups receive the same treatment and participate in the same three laboratory sessions on different timelines. During each three-hour laboratory session, participants are fitted with an ambulatory 24-hour continuous heart rate recorder, electrocardiogram electrodes, respiration bands, and a blood pressure cuff. Physiological responses to such tasks as rehearsing and delivering a five-minute speech are measured. Participants continue to wear the 24-hour recorder after leaving the lab as they go about their daily routines; the device will record activity information several times throughout the day. Counseling sessions take place weekly for 12 consecutive weeks and involve relaxation techniques and strategies (both mental and behavioral) for managing anger more effectively. Participants will be directed to perform certain behavioral exercises in situations that have caused angry feelings or reactions in the past. Licensed clinical psychologists Ethan Gorenstein, Ph.D., and Felice Tager, Ph.D., assistant professors at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, will conduct the counseling sessions. The laboratory is located at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in Northern Manhattan. All participants receive free counseling treatment and are paid $225 for participating in the three laboratory sessions ($75 per session). To find out more about the study or to volunteer, call 212-305-6687.