CONTEXT: Anxiety and its pharmacological treatment can interfere with cardiac catheterization. Massage therapy has been used primarily in nonmedical settings for relaxation and stress reduction, and some research demonstrates its efficacy in medical environments. OBJECTIVE: First, to determine whether massage could be administered under "normal" conditions in an interventional cardiology center. Second, to evaluate the efficacy of massage in reducing anxiety before, during, and after a cardiac catheterization procedure. DESIGN: A prospective, randomized, controlled, single-masked, pilot study. SETTING: An interventional cardiology center at an urban hospital in New York, NY PATIENTS: Seventy-eight patients (59 men, 19 women), with a mean age of 60.1 years who were scheduled for an elective, diagnostic catheterization based on routine clinical practices. INTERVENTION: Treatment subjects received a standardized, 10-minute massage. Control subjects spent 10 minutes of quiet time with a massage therapist. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: We evaluated the feasibility of incorporating massage into the time period between the patient's arrival at the hospital and catheterization, patient interest in receiving massage, and staff support of this complementary therapy. We further evaluated self-ratings of anxiety and pain or discomfort on visual analog scales, vital signs, cortisol levels, and analgesic or anxiolytic intake. RESULTS: A 10-minute massage was feasibly incorporated before catheterization. Seventy percent of the patients consented to participate, and staff supported the intervention. Mean anxiety scores on a 166 mm visual analog scale dropped by 16.2 mm (SD, 24.6) in the massaged group and by 6.8 mm (SD, 17.3) in the control group (P = .081). No statistically significant results were found in pain or discomfort visual analog scale scores (P =.491), blood pressure (P = .827), heart rate (P = .935), respiration rate (P=.916), or analgesic and anxiolytic usage (P > or = .252). Cortisol levels are discussed as exploratory, data. CONCLUSIONS: The results of the study suggest that a 10-minute massage before an invasive cardiac procedure is insufficient to decrease stress measurably.
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