Published: Oct. 17, 2006
Updated: June 2, 2010
It’s well known that controlling your level of stress can help your heart. Duke research suggests that it can also help your wallet.
According to a study led by Duke psychologist James Blumenthal, PhD, patients with coronary artery disease who learn to manage their stress levels have fewer heart problems and lower medical bills. Blumenthal’s findings indicate that stress-management therapy cuts the costs of heart care by an average of approximately $5,000 a year over the five years following initial treatment -- savings that are maintained over time.
Of course, more money in your pocket doesn’t mean much if you’re not around to enjoy it. Here, too, stress management shines. In the same study, participants who learned stress management techniques had 40 percent fewer additional heart events or cardiac procedures than those who received standard treatments and/or exercise regimens.
Stress management programs help patients identify the physical, behavioral, emotional, and cognitive symptoms of stress. Patients then are taught how to react realistically and positively to these stresses. “Once you’ve learned how to recognize and handle the stresses of everyday life, that knowledge tends to stay with you,” Blumenthal says. “In this way, stress management is unlike exercise, which must be maintained for the benefits to be realized.”
The study is just part of a mounting body of evidence compiled at Duke and other leading medical centers about the importance of stress management to overall health and the effective control of serious conditions ranging from heart disease to diabetes.
So here’s the real bottom line: If you’re stressed out, seek the support and help you need to manage it more effectively. Your body and your bank account will thank you for it.