Skip to main content

Heart Coherence: A New Tool in the Management of Stress on Professionals and Family Caregivers of Patients with Dementia

Abstract

We describe a stress management intervention intended to reduce the damage and stress impact on the heart physiology and function of a group of caregivers (professional and non-professional) who work with patients with dementia. The intervention consisted in applying heart coherence techniques in a population of 72 caregivers of patients with dementia (42 professional and 29 non-professional caregivers) who had high scores in heart stress and burden tests. Six months after the training they were able to generate appropriate patterns of heart coherence, with a statistically significant decrease in their heart overload. We conclude that training in techniques of heart coherence and positive psychology had effective results on the stress management of the participant caregivers. This was a simple, inexpensive technique with lasting results. To our knowledge this is the first research in Spain studying the application of heart coherence techniques to caregivers of people with dementia.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Alabdulgader, A. (2012). Coherence: A novel nonpharmacological modality for lowering blood pressure in hypertensive patients. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 1, 54–62.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Barrios-Choplin, B., & Atkinson, M. (2000). Personal and organizational quality assessment. Boulder Creek, CA: HeartMath Research Center, Institute of HeartMath.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Chandola, T., Britton, A., Brunner, E., Hemingway, H., Malik, M., Kumari, M., et al. (2008). Work stress and coronary heart disease: What are the mechanisms? European Heart Journal, 29, 640–648.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Childre, D., & Martin, H. (1999). The HeartMath solution. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Childre, D., & Rozman, D. (2005). Transforming stress: The HeartMath solution to relieving worry, fatigue, and tension. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Cloninger, C. R., Zohar, A. H., Hirschmann, S., & Dahan, D. (2012). The psychological costs and benefits of being highly persistent: Personality profiles distinguish mood disorders from anxiety disorders. Journal of Affective Disorders, 136, 758–766.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Cohen-Katz, J., Wiley, S., Capuano, T., Baker, D., Kimmel, S., & Shapiro, S. (2005). The effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on nurse stress and burnout. Part II: A qualitative and quantitative study. Holistic Nursing Practice, 1, 26–35.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Cohn, M. A., Fredrickson, B. L., Brown, S. L., Mikels, J. A., & Conway, A. M. (2009). Happiness unpacked: Positive emotions increase life satisfaction by building resilience. Emotion, 9, 361–368.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Del Pozo, J. M., Gevirtz, R. N., Scher, B., & Guarneri, E. (2004). Biofeedback treatment increases heart rate variability in patients with known coronary artery disease. American Heart Journal, 147(3), 545.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Geisler, F. C., Kubiak, T., Siewert, K., & Weber, H. (2013). Cardiac vagal tone is associated with social engagement and self-regulation. Biological Psychology, 93, 279–286. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2013.02.013.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Giardino, N. D., Chan, L., & Borson, S. (2004). Combined heart rate variability and pulse oximetry biofeedback for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: Preliminary findings. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 29(2), 121–133.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Groff, D., Battaglini, C., Sipe, C., Peppercorn, J., Anderson, M., & Hackney, A. C. (2010). Finding a new normal: Using recreation therapy to improve the well-being of women with breast cancer. Annual in Therapeutic Recreation, 18, 40–52.

    Google Scholar 

  13. HeartMath. (2011). The science behind the emWave® desktop & emWave2 products. http://www.heartmathstore.com/cgi-bin/category.cgi?category=sciencebehind. Accessed October 11, 2014.

  14. Judkins, S. (2003). Stress among nurse managers: Can anything help? Nurse Researcher, 12(2), 58–70.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Karavidas, M. K., Lehrer, P. M., Vaschillo, E., Vaschillo, B., Marin, H., Buyske, S., et al. (2007). Preliminary results of an open label study of heart rate variability biofeedback for the treatment of major depression. Applied psychophysiology and biofeedback, 32(1), 19–30.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Kim, S., Zemon, V., Cavallo, M. M., Rath, J. F., McCraty, R., & Foley, F. W. (2013). Heart rate variability biofeedback, executive functioning and chronic brain injury. Brain Injury, 27(2), 209–222.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. Knudsen, H. K., Ducharme, L. J., & Roman, P. M. (2009). Turnover intention and emotional exhaustion “at the top”: Adapting the job demands-resources model to leaders of addiction treatment organizations. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 14, 84–95.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Köteles, F., & Simor, P. (2013). Somatic symptoms and holistic thinking as major dimensions behind modern health worries. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 21(5), 869–876.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Lacey, B. C., & Lacey, J. I. (1978). Two-way communication between the heart and the brain. American Psychologist, 2, 99–113.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Lagos, L., Vaschillo, E., Vaschillo, B., Lehrer, P., Bates, M., & Pandina, R. (2008). Heart rate variability biofeedback as a strategy for dealing with competitive anxiety: A case study. Biofeedback, 36(3), 109.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Marquínez-Báscones, F. (2006). Cerebro y coherencia hearta. Gaceta Médica de Bilbao, 103(4), 157–161.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Martín, M., Salvadó, I., Nadal, S., Miji, L. C., Rico, J. M., Lanz, P., et al. (1996). Adaptación para nuestro medio de la Escala de Sobrecarga del Cuidador (Caregiver Burden Interview) de Zarit. Rev Gerontol, 6, 338–346.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Maslach, C., & Jackson, S. E. (1997). Maslach burnout inventory. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychlogists Press. 1986. Seisdedos N. Manual MBl, Inventario Burnout de Maslach. Madrid: TEA.

  24. McCraty, M., & Atkinson, L. (2000). Emotional self-regulation program enhances psychological health and quality of life in patients with diabetes R. LipsenthalHeartMath Research Center, Institute of HeartMath, Publication No. 00-006. Boulder Creek, CA.

  25. McCraty, R., Atkinson, M., Lipsenthal, L., & Arguelles, L. (2009a). New hope for correctional officers: An innovative program for reducing stress and health risks. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 34, 251–272.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. McCraty, R., Atkinson, M., Tomasino, D., & Bradley, R. T. (2009b). The coherent heart: Heart-brain interactions, psychophysiological coherence, and the emergence of system-wide order. Integral Review, 5, 10–115.

    Google Scholar 

  27. McCraty, R., & Tomasino, D. (2006). Emotional stress, positive emotions, and psychophysiological coherence. In B. B. Arnetz & R. Ekman (Eds.), Stress in health and disease (pp. 342–365). Weinheim: Wiley-VCH.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  28. McCraty, R., & Zayas, M. A. (2014). Heart coherence, self-regulation, autonomic stability, and psychosocial well-being. Psychology for Clinical Settings, 5, 1090.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Méndez, I., Secanilla, E., Martínez, J. P., & Navarro, J. (2012). Estudio comparativo de burnout en cuidadores profesionales de personas mayores institucionalizadas con demencias y otras enfermedades. European Journal of Investigation in Health, Psychology And Education, 1(2). https://scholar.google.es/scholar?cluster=16326944594588649068&hl=es&as_sdt=2005&sciodt=0,5.

  30. Mikels, J., Reuter-Lorenz, P., Beyer, J., & Fredrickson, B. (2008). Emotion and working memory: Evidence for domain—Specific processes for affective maintenance. Emotion, 8(2), 256–266.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Miró, E., Solanes, A., Martínez, P., Sánchez, A. I., & Rodríguez, J. (2007). Relación entre el burnout o “síndrome de quemarse por el trabajo”, la tensión laboral y las características del sueño. Psicothema, 19(3), 388–394.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  32. Molinuevo, J. L., & Hernández, B. (2011). Perfil del cuidador informal asociado al manejo clínico del paciente con enfermedad de Alzheimer no respondedor al tratamiento sintomático de la enfermedad. Neurología, 26(9), 518–527.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  33. Montilla, M. L. (2008). La neurocodificación de la experiencia como marco para la psicoterapia del siglo XXI. Venezolanos de psiquiatría y neurología, 20. http://svp.org.ve/images/revistasvp111.pdf#page=20.

  34. Moscoso, M. (2013). La psicología de la salud: Un enfoque multidisciplinario acerca del estrés y cambio conductual. Revista de Psicología, 12(1), 47–72.

    Google Scholar 

  35. O’Donnell, M. (2007). The heart and the brain within the broader context of wellness. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 74(Suppl 1), S56–S58.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. Otake, K., Shimai, S., Tanaka-Matsumi, J., Otsui, K., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2006). Happy people become happier through kindness: A counting kindnesses intervention. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 361–375.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  37. Pipe, T., & Bortz, J. (2009). Mindful leadership as healing practice: Nurturing self to serve others. International Journal for Human Caring, 13(2), 34–38.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Reineck, C., & Furino, A. (2005). Nursing career full fillment: Statistics and statements from registered nurses. Nursing Economics, 23(1), 25–30.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  39. Reynard, A., Gevirtz, R., Berlow, R., Brown, M., & Boutelle, K. (2011). Heart rate variability as a marker of self-regulation. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 36, 209–215. doi:10.1007/s10484-011-9162-1.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  40. Rozman, R., Whitaker, T., & Beckman, D. (1996). A pilot intervention program which reduces psychological symptomatology in individuals with human immunodeficiency virus D. JonesComplementary Therapies in Medicine, 4(4), 226–232.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Salmond, S., & Ropis, P. (2005). Job stress and general well-being: A comparative study of medical-surgical and home care nurses. Medsurg Nursing, 14(5), 301–309.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  42. Schwerdtfeger, A., & Friedrich-Mai, P. (2009). Social interaction moderates the relationship between depressive mood and heart rate variability: Evidence from an ambulatory monitoring study. Health Psychology, 28, 501–509.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  43. Scott, L., Hwang, W., & Rogers, A. (2006). The impact of multiple care giving roles on fatigue, stress, and work performance among hospital staff nurses. The Journal of Nursing Administration, 36(2), 86–95.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  44. Seligman, M. E., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction (Vol. 55(1), p. 5). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Siepmann, M., Aykac, V., Unterdorfer, J., Petrowski, K., & Mueck-Weymann, M. (2008). A pilot study on the effects of heart rate variability biofeedback in patients with depression and in healthy subjects. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 33(4), 195–201.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  46. Tucker, S., Harris, M., Pipe, T., & Stevens, S. (2010). Nurses’ ratings of their health and professional work environment. AAOHN Journal, 58(6), 253–267.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  47. Tugade, M., Fredrickson, B., & Barrett, L. (2004). Psychological resilience and positive emotional granularity: Examining the benefits of positive emotions on coping and health. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72(6), 1161–1190.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Tugade, M. M. (2011). Positive emotions and coping: Examining dual-process models of resilience. In The Oxford handbook of stress, health, and coping (pp. 186–199). Oxford University Press.

  49. Uliaszek, A. A., Zinbarg, R. E., Mineka, S., Craske, M. C., Griffith, J. W., Sutton, J. M., et al. (2012). A longitudinal examination of stress generation in depressive and anxiety disorders. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 121, 4–15.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  50. Watson, J. (2009). Nursing: The philosophy and science of caring. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Yucha, C., & Montgomery, D. (2008). Evidenced-based practice in biofeedback and neurofeedback. Wheat Ridge, CO: Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Zarit, S., Orr, N., & Zarit, J. (1985). The hidden victims of Alzheimer’s disease: Families under stress. New York: University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Zohar, A., Cloninger, C., & McCraty, R. (2013). Personality and heart rate variability: Exploring pathways from personality to heart coherence and health. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 1(6), 32–39.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to C. M. Sarabia-Cobo.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Sarabia-Cobo, C.M. Heart Coherence: A New Tool in the Management of Stress on Professionals and Family Caregivers of Patients with Dementia. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback 40, 75–83 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10484-015-9276-y

Download citation

Keywords

  • Caregivers
  • Nursing
  • Dementia
  • Stress
  • Biofeedback