Position paper on the importance of psychosocial factors in cardiology: Update 2013.Ger Med Sci. 2014; 12:Doc09.GM
The rapid progress of psychosomatic research in cardiology and also the increasing impact of psychosocial issues in the clinical daily routine have prompted the Clinical Commission of the German Heart Society (DGK) to agree to an update of the first state of the art paper on this issue which was originally released in 2008.
The circle of experts was increased, general aspects were implemented and the state of the art was updated. Particular emphasis was dedicated to coronary heart diseases (CHD), heart rhythm diseases and heart failure because to date the evidence-based clinical knowledge is most advanced in these particular areas. Differences between men and women and over the life span were considered in the recommendations as were influences of cognitive capability and the interactive and synergistic impact of classical somatic risk factors on the affective comorbidity in heart disease patients.
A IA recommendation (recommendation grade I and evidence grade A) was given for the need to consider psychosocial risk factors in the estimation of coronary risks as etiological and prognostic risk factors. Furthermore, for the recommendation to routinely integrate psychosocial patient management into the care of heart surgery patients because in these patients, comorbid affective disorders (e.g. depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder) are highly prevalent and often have a malignant prognosis. A IB recommendation was given for the treatment of psychosocial risk factors aiming to prevent the onset of CHD, particularly if the psychosocial risk factor is harmful in itself (e.g. depression) or constrains the treatment of the somatic risk factors. Patients with acute and chronic CHD should be offered anti-depressive medication if these patients suffer from medium to severe states of depression and in this case medication with selective reuptake inhibitors should be given. In the long-term course of treatment with implanted cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) a subjective health technology assessment is warranted. In particular, the likelihood of affective comorbidities and the onset of psychological crises should be carefully considered.
The present state of the art paper presents an update of current empirical evidence in psychocardiology. The paper provides evidence-based recommendations for the integration of psychosocial factors into cardiological practice and highlights areas of high priority. The evidence for estimating the efficiency for psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacological interventions has increased substantially since the first release of the policy document but is, however, still weak. There remains an urgent need to establish curricula for physician competence in psychodiagnosis, communication and referral to ensure that current psychocardiac knowledge is translated into the daily routine.