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Reduce anger-induced heart failure

The Effects of a Forgiveness Intervention on Patients with Coronary Artery Disease

Martina A. Waltman, Douglas C. Russell, Catherine T. Coyle, Robert D. Enright, Anthony C. Holter, Christopher M. Swoboda

Psychology and Health, 2009

Research details

Type of paper: Primary Empirical Study

Sample size: 32

Open Access: No


This research assesses the effects of a psychology of forgiveness pilot study on anger-recall stress induced changes in myocardial perfusion, forgiveness and related variables. Thirty-two patients were administered baseline rest and anger-recall stress imaging studies, and 17 of these participants who demonstrated anger-recall stress induced myocardial perfusion defects (forgiveness group, n 1⁄4 9; control group, n 1⁄4 8) were randomly assigned to a series of 10 weekly interpersonal forgiveness or control therapy sessions with a trained psychologist, and underwent additional anger-recall stress myocardial perfusion nuclear imaging studies post-test and at 10-week follow-up. Patients assigned to the forgiveness group showed significantly fewer anger-recall induced myocardial perfusion defects from pre-test to the 10-week follow-up as well as significantly greater gains in forgiveness from pre-test to post-test and from pre-test to follow- up compared to the control group. Forgiveness intervention may be an effective means of reducing anger-induced myocardial ischemia in patients with coronary artery disease.