in heart patients is the field’s “holy grail,” says psychologist
Robert Allan, PhD, co-author of the 2011 APA book “Heart
and Mind: The Practice of Cardiac Psychology.” “If you could
actually reduce recurrent cardiac events, that would be a
mammoth achievement,” says Allan, a clinical assistant professor
of psychology in medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.
The AHA scientific statement offers several suggestions
for future research. In addition to calling for randomized
controlled trials to determine whether depression treatment
improves survival and other outcomes, the authors offer
recommendations that include the following:
• Investigating the biological and behavioral factors involved
in the relationship between depression and cardiac outcomes.
• Exploring depression’s role in heart failure and other forms
of heart disease.
• Assessing the impact of anxiety and other psychological
• Assessing the risks and benefits of routine depression
screening for heart patients.
In the meantime, says Allan, more psychologists need to start
working with heart patients.
“We need to get legions of psychologists out there into
hospitals and cardiac rehab centers, identifying patients who are
depressed and figuring out how to treat them,” he says. n
Rebecca A. Clay is a journalist in Washington, D.C.
• Behavioral Cardiology/Cardiac Psychology
Listserv. This listserv is an informal digest of
cardiac psychology and behavioral cardiology
research and news. Subscribe at http://lists.
• “Heart and Mind: Cardiac Psychology.”
This APA Clinician’s Corner video-on-demand,
available at http://apa.bizvision.com/product/
a three-hour overview of cardiac psychology by
Robert Allan, PhD.
• “Heart and Mind: Contemporary Issues in
Cardiac Psychology.” This five-part video-on-demand program from APA, available at https://
aspx, highlights the critical role of psychological
science in understanding, preventing and
treating cardiac events.
• Allan, R., & Fisher, J. (2011). Heart and Mind:
The Practice of Cardiac Psychology, Second
Edition. Washington, D.C.: APA.
• Lichtman, J. H., Froelicher, E. S., Blumenthal,
J. A., et al. (2014). “Depression as a risk factor
for poor prognosis among patients with acute
coronary syndrome: Systematic review and
recommendations: A scientific statement from
the American Heart Association.” Circulation,